To provide your best effort and performance while at work, you need to be able to fully focus on your job. However, it is impossible to focus if you are concerned about your health and safety at the workplace. You have the right to expect your employer to protect you to the best of their ability and to prevent a dangerous accident whenever possible.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), helps ensure that your employer takes this responsibility seriously. This federal organization provides a wide variety of support for workers and their employers, through training programs, outreach, and education. However, OSHA’s most important job is enforcing strict safety standards and offering employees a means to report serious risks at work.
Every employee covered under OSHA’s protection needs to understand how to report violations in their workplace. Knowing your OSHA-guaranteed rights is an essential part of keeping yourself safe and ensuring you feel comfortable in your work environment. That is why the New York workplace accident attorneys at Finz & Finz P.C. have answered some of the most common questions about OSHA and their violation reporting system.
What is OSHA?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was founded in 1970 to increase workers’ safety throughout the country. OSHA creates and enforces safety standards for a wide variety of industries.
Some of the workers that OSHA’s laws and regulations protect include:
- General industry workers, which includes most employees in the private sector
- Construction workers
- Maritime workers
- Agricultural workers
In the state of New York, even public sector employees are protected through an OSHA-approved health and safety plan. Due to the wide reach of OSHA’s regulations, almost every employee throughout the United States can rely on OSHA’s protection and support.
If an employer does not follow OSHA regulations or violates a worker’s rights, employees can submit a complaint about this unlawful behavior. This report informs OSHA about potential violations and prompts the organization to investigate the problem.
With the help of OSHA laws, you have the power to demand a safe and healthy work environment.
What Are My Rights at Work?
Under the “General Duty” clause of the OSH Act, employers are responsible for creating a workplace environment that protects employee safety and reduces exposure to known hazards.
This clause provides the framework for workers’ protections under OSHA and helps the organization enforce worksite safety standards, such as:
- Providing fall protection equipment on the worksite
- Preventing extensive noise exposure
- Incorporating safety guards on machines and tools
- Preventing exposure to harmful substances
- Providing safety equipment like hard hats and respirators
- Training workers about hazards and protections on the worksite
These are just a few of the wide variety of safety regulations that you should expect your employer to uphold when you are on the worksite.
Although many OSHA regulations are specific to your employer’s responsibilities, this organization also defines the rights that employees have while at work.
As an OSHA-protected employee, you have the right to:
- Work with equipment that is safe to use
- Expect your employer to follow OSHA safety standards
- Expect your employer to provide protective equipment free of charge
- Receiving training in a language you understand
- File an OSHA violation complaint
- Request an OSHA inspection of your workplace and speak with inspectors
- Report a work-related illness or injury
- Review records of injury and illness on the worksite
- Review information about hazard exposure
You can use your OSHA rights at any time to ensure that you have the information, protection, and education you need to safely perform your job.
How Do I Report an OSHA Violation?
If your employer violates your rights as a worker or fails to provide a safe work environment, you can file a complaint about this violation through OSHA.
You can report a workplace violation in a variety of different ways, including:
- Completing the online complaint form
- Sending a letter describing the violation through fax, mail, or email
- Calling the local or federal OSHA office
- Discussing your complaint in-person at a local OSHA office
In your violation report, you will need to provide information about yourself, your workplace, and your safety concern. Although OSHA requires you to include your personal information with this form, you have the right to request that you remain anonymous during the inspection process.
Once you file your report, OSHA will evaluate your claim to determine whether or not to conduct an on-site inspection or off-site investigation. During an on-site inspection, you may choose a representative to work with the inspector and discuss your concerns about the workplace. When the OSHA inspector finishes their investigation, they will report their findings and proposed penalties to you and your employer.
Can I Be Fired for Reporting an OSHA Violation?
No, your employer cannot fire you for reporting an OSHA violation. According to OSHA’s publication of workers’ rights, employers are prohibited from retaliating against their employees for using their OSHA-protected rights.
This allows you to report safety concerns and violations without fear of punishment from your employer, including:
- Denying overtime, benefits, or promotion
- Reduced pay or work hours
If you believe that your employer retaliated against you for reporting an OSHA violation, you may file a whistleblower complaint and request that OSHA investigates your circumstances. You only have 30 days after the act of retaliation to file your report, so you need to act quickly to initiate a whistleblower investigation.
Contact a New York Workplace Accident Attorney Today
You should never have to fear for your health or safety while you are at work, and OSHA’s regulations can help ensure that you have the protection you deserve. Unfortunately, workplace accidents are still incredibly common throughout the country, despite OSHA’s efforts to keep you safe.
If you or a loved one were injured in a workplace accident, you have the right to demand compensation. The New York workplace accident attorneys at Finz & Finz P.C. are ready to help you file your injury claim and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today by calling 855-TOP-FIRM for a free consultation on your case.