According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 4,500 workers were killed on the job in 2010. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) requires that employers provide a safe workplace. They must correct hazardous working conditions that could cause injury or death.
OSHA Sets and Enforces Workplace Standards
OSHA sets and enforces workplace standards, provides training, and inspects work sites. If an inspector identifies a violation, the employer must post the citation near the work area involved and correct the situation promptly. Penalties for knowingly violating OSHA standards range from $5,000 to $70,000 per violation, depending on the seriousness of the offense.
OSHA Standards Apply to Most Private Employers
OSHA sets standards for farming, construction, maritime, and general industries. Regulations apply to private companies and their employees. They do not apply to self-employed individuals, farmers' immediate family members, or workplaces regulated by another federal agency. An OSHA-approved state agency may cover state and local government employees.
OSHA Sets Requirements for Employers
Employers must make the workplace safe from recognized hazards and regularly check work sites for OSHA violations. They must warn employees about possible hazards and set up policies to ensure compliance with OSHA standards. They must provide training and medical examinations if required.
Employers must report fatal or serious accidents within eight hours. They must keep records of work site injuries and illnesses, exposures, and medical records. These records must be available to employees.
Report Workplace Injuries and Hazards
Your employer must have an OSHA poster at the work site informing employees of their rights and responsibilities. If you are injured at work or become aware of a hazard, notify your supervisor. If the condition is not corrected, complain to the local OSHA office. An OSHA inspector may require the employer to correct the hazards or send employees off the job.
Employers Cannot Retaliate Against You
If you are injured or made ill by something in your workplace, notify your supervisor immediately - for both workers' compensation and OSHA purposes.
Your employer cannot retaliate against you for reporting a workplace hazard or walking off the job due to unsafe conditions. If you believe you were fired or disciplined for these reasons, you may file a report with the Department of Labor and OSHA within 30 days of the adverse action. You may also file a lawsuit against the employer for retaliation.
An Employment Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding OSHA and employee safety is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact an employment or workplace safety lawyer.