All employees have the basic right to work in the safest possible environment. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) mandates that employers must take specific and verifiable steps to keep their workplaces free of safety hazards that could seriously injure or kill their employees. Nearly all private employers are covered by the OSH Act; and government employers must adhere to corresponding acts fashioned specifically for their occupations.
OSHA’s mission is to help keep workers safe by mandating secure and healthy work environments.
It also enforces training and safety standards across all occupations in the U.S. Additionally, the agency provides guidelines that protect the rights of workers in case of an on-the-job accident. If you believe your workplace is unsafe, you can file a complaint with OSHA and schedule an inspection of the site. If you are unsure about whether a complaint should be filed, you need to contact the injured worker attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers PC to discuss the situation and receive free advice.
What Are My Rights Regarding Safety in the Workplace?
As an employee, you are entitled to the following basic rights:
- The right to be promptly notified of any unsafe working condition
- The right to be appropriately trained and informed
- The right to never be discriminated against for contacting OSHA.
But what does this really mean?
There are many jobs whose workplaces include risks which cannot be avoided. Nevertheless, your employer has a legal duty to examine its workplace, identify safety hazards, and correct them to make sure that working conditions meet federal (OSHA) safety standards. And yet, accidents do happen, even when precautionary measures are taken. However, if your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence, then your rights may have been compromised and you are entitled to compensation. Supervisors have an obligation to carefully maintain a job site to its safest potential and communicate effectively with the state and its employees by complying with all of the following:
- An employer must maintain its workplace premises in its safest possible state, inform their workers if they are working with hazardous materials, and supply their employees with safety equipment and, when required, provide special training necessary to do the job safely.
- Any test that can be done to diagnose workplace hazards must be performed regularly, and per OSHA standards.
- State law requires virtually all New York state employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage for their employees or be certified by the state as self-insured. All such worker insurance notices must be displayed in a prominent location which is accessible to all employees.
- An employer must also keep accurate records of the number of employees, classification, wages and accidents involving their business for four years. They must also provide the state Workers’ Compensation Board with all information listed above when the Workers’ Comp Board requests it.
- Employers may not discriminate against an employee or worker applicant because he or she has claimed, or attempted to claim, workers’ compensation.
- Additionally, an employer may not retaliate against an employee who files a claim with OSHA in an attempt to make the workplace safer. This restriction also prevents the employer from withholding employee pay, raises, or promotions after filing an OSHA claim.
- An employer must report injuries and occupational diseases to its workers’ comp insurance company within 10 days of an accident; and within 8 hours if an onsite death has taken place or an accident has caused the hospitalization of three or more employees
- Certain New York employers – primarily but not necessarily larger ones – must undertake safety consultations and participate in a mandatory safety and loss-prevention program, as outlined by the State Department of Labor.
If you believe you’re risking serious harm from your working environment, calmly visit with your employer. Maybe your supervisor is unaware of the matter, and you must first give them the chance to make things right. If there’s no follow-up after a week or so, put your concerns in writing.
If there’s still no movement and you’re wondering about your worker rights – especially if you feel that your health and safety might be in immediate peril – your best bet is to contact Kaplan Lawyers PC for a free consultation. The advice can be invaluable and help to prevent unnecessary injuries on the job. If you or a loved one has been injured in the workplace and need assistance, the attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers PC can help if you’ll call us or contact us online.