Worker Rights: OSHA and the OSH Act

These days, many of us take workplace safety protocols and regulations for granted. They seem as if they’ve been around forever, in part, because most of the rules and recommendations seems obvious. But you may be surprised to learn that federal protections for workers have only been around since 1970, when the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed. It is the law that created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the most important advocate for workplace safety and the rights of injured employees.

OSHA’s many responsibilities include writing safety standards, providing training to employers and workers, inspecting workplaces and responding to complaints/reports about safety issues in individual workplaces. When there are violations, the agency is also tasked with issuing fines and taking other corrective actions.

What Are Your Workplace Safety Rights Under the Law?

Much of what OSHA does goes unappreciated until there has been an injury or accident. But by understanding your rights under the OSH ahead of time, you can hopefully avoid those very accidents. As a worker, you have the right to:

  •         Be taught about the hazards in your workplace (in terms that are easy to understand), how to mitigate those hazards and what the applicable OSHA standards are
  •         Access important informational documents on job-site illnesses and injuries
  •         Submit confidential complaints to OSHA about safety problems in your workplace, request an inspection, and participate in that inspection (if you want to)
  •         Be protected from discrimination or retaliation simply for submitting complaints or inquiries to OSHA
  •         Access test results about workplace hazards in your workplace

Along with these worker rights are a great many employer responsibilities, some of which directly correspond with your rights. For instance, employers are required to provide the training and educational information that you receive (mandatorily or upon request). They must also provide the safety equipment and protective equipment you need to do your job (and the gear must be provided to you for free).

Most importantly, employers must strictly abide by OSHA rules and regulations for mitigating safety risks in the workplace. Those that fail to do so often face the consequences of fines and increased OSHA scrutiny.

Compensation For Workplace Injuries

Every state has its own workers’ compensation systems, and those who are injured on the job have the right to appropriate compensation, including medical care and supplemental wages while being away from work.

As a worker, you should not be afraid to report your injury, seek medical attention and submit a workers’ compensation claim. This is one of your most important workplace rights, and you shouldn’t hesitate to avail yourself of it.

Get Help and Advice From a Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Filing a workers’ compensation claim doesn’t legally require the help of an attorney. But the system is so bureaucratic (and often biased in favor of employers) that many injured workers have a very difficult time navigating the system on their own.

To better understand your rights, protections and legal options after a workplace accident, please contact a lawyer, like a work injury attorney in New Jersey from Rispoli & Borneo, P.C., today to arrange an initial consultation.