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Employee rights under OSHA

Since 1971, the Office of Safety and Health Administration has been establishing and enforcing safety standards and regulations for U.S. industries and workplaces. By law, employers are required to comply with OSHA rules which relate to health and safety matters in the workplace. Officials at the federal agency are also responsible for inspecting workplaces to ensure employers are compliant with established regulations.

From exposure to toxins and hazardous materials to fall hazards, U.S. employers must take measures to "provide their employees with a workplace that does not have serious hazards and follow all relevant OSHA safety and health standards."

 

Depending on the industry, a U.S. employee may believe that he or she has few rights with regard to influencing the health and safety of a workplace. This belief, however, is not true and employees who believe an employer is violating safety and health regulations may choose to file a complaint with OSHA and request a workplace inspection.

Under federal law, employees who do choose to report an employer for safety or health violations cannot be retaliated against. Likewise, in cases where an OSHA inspection occurs and an employee answers questions of or discusses concerns with an inspector, he or she cannot be disciplined, demoted or fired. Employees who have suffered retaliation after filing an OSHA complaint, requesting a workplace inspection or discussing concerns with an inspector may report an employer's actions and legal action may follow.

In cases where an employee has suffered a workplace injury he or she would be wise to contact an attorney who can assist in trying to secure the maximum amount of allowable workers' compensation. In cases where an individual's injuries stem from the negligence of a third-party, a lawsuit may be filed to recover additional compensation.

Source: OSHA.gov, "Workers' Rights," 2015

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