When you step through the door at the beginning of your workday, you deserve an environment free from hazards that could compromise their health and well-being. If you find yourself in a hazardous situation on the job, it is vital for you to understand your rights and the steps you can take to protect your safety and the safety of other workers.
What must employers do to keep workplaces safe?
Your employer is responsible for keeping your workplace safe for everyone employed there. Some of the many employer health and safety responsibilities include:
- Providing training so that you can safely operate machinery, use safety equipment and perform other tasks on the job
- Providing safety equipment required to perform your work
- Ensuring that equipment is safe to use
- Warning you about hazards in the workplace, ranging from trip hazards to potential exposure to hazardous substances
- Comply with standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Ultimately, workers’ safety on the job isn’t a privilege—it’s a fundamental right, and employers must take reasonable steps to ensure their employees’ safety.
What are your rights in the workplace?
Unfortunately, not every employer takes all of the steps necessary to keep employees safe from harm on the job. This is where your rights come into play. You have a right to:
- Refuse to do a task if it would place you at imminent risk of injury or death
- File a complaint to request an OSHA inspection, including requesting that your complaint remain anonymous, however you are more protected from retaliation if you can prove the employer’s knowledge
- Report an injury or illness that you experience as a result of your work
- Review the Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses as well as the results of tests and safety inspections
- File a workers compensation complaint without retaliation
Many people do not report dangerous situations or exercise other rights out of fear that their employer will punish them. Thankfully, if your employer threatens you or punishes you for reporting unsafe conditions, the law is on your side, provided you take the right actions. Further, the remedies are slim and time consuming, so obtaining legal advice BEFORE you confront your employer is always the best course of action. An experienced employment attorney can help you document this retaliation and protect your rights.
No one should have to choose between their safety and their job. Understanding your rights when hazards arise is often the first step toward prioritizing your well-being and safety at work.