Do you know what is the scariest thing in the workplace? Getting escalation, right? Nope. Not even close. The scariest thing is getting injured in your work. Imagine this: an employee is working in his cubical, like every other day, and suddenly, some accident happens, and that employee gets injured. That can be one of the toughest situations to be in for anybody. In that situation, your organization should be fully responsible for everything from A to Z.
Okay, how about this? How can we prevent this situation altogether? That is where you come in. You, as a good employee, should know your rights and what actions you need to take if such a cruel situation comes up. If you think about it, the knowledge not only helps you out in that tight situation but also your colleagues.
So, where can you get that knowledge? Enter OSHA. OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and it predominately looks out for the unsafe work environment and provides guidelines to make sure nothing serious happens down the line.
This guide contains all the necessary information for you to face any health and hazard scenario in your workplace. But here’s hoping that you don’t face such a situation again.
Understanding Your Workplace Rights
It’s really important to understand your rights when it comes to health and safety at work. As an employee, you deserve to be in a safe environment where your health isn’t at risk. Employers are legally responsible for making sure that their workplace is safe.
If they seem to not care about that situation, you can lawyer up. Yes, you heard it right. Did you know? California is considered one of those U.S. states prone to workplace injury. Statistics say that 462 fatal workplace injuries occurred in 2021. Because of that, workers’ compensation attorneys in Los Angeles are getting popular and working tirelessly to make sure that the workplace is safe.
You have the right to know about any work risks and get training to deal with them. Plus, you should have access to safety gear, guidelines, and what to do during emergencies. If you come across a situation that could be dangerous, you can say no to the task without being punished.
It’s also your right to speak up if you see any health or safety problems. Your employer can’t treat you badly for doing that. They have to listen and take action. Knowing your rights gives you the power to make your workplace safer and make sure that your employer is doing their part.
Reporting Unsafe Working Conditions
In 2021, private sector employers reported 2.6 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses, a decrease of 1.8% from 2020. The rate remained constant at 2.7 cases per 100 full-time workers.
Making sure that your workplace is safe means speaking up about risky situations and health concerns. If you see something that could be dangerous for you or your coworkers, it’s your right and duty to take action.
Start by telling your immediate supervisor or manager about the issue. Be specific and share details, and if you can, suggest ideas to solve the problem. If they don’t address your concerns, you can talk to higher-up managers or the health and safety person in your organization.
If those steps don’t help, you can reach out to external authorities like your country’s labor department or the occupational health and safety agency.
Will There Be Action Against Me?
Okay, now you might think, what will happen if I make a complaint to the OSHA? Will my boss take action against me?
First, understand that you are doing a good thing. Second, it is against the law for your boss to take any action against you. The OSHA or other labor committees make sure that open conversations are more than welcome and ultimately help to create a safer workplace.
Again, by speaking up quickly and pushing for changes, you’re helping to make your workplace better for you and your colleagues. The OSHA relies on workers like you to report dangers—your action could stop others from getting hurt in the future.
Protection From Retaliation
Workers who report safety worries at work are legally shielded from any form of retaliation. If an employer responds with actions like demoting you, mistreating you, or even firing you, know this: there are safeguards in place to protect you from such actions.
You have the right to file a complaint with relevant authorities like the OSHA if you face retaliation, and there’s a time limit for doing so. You can also talk privately to OSHA representatives about your situation.
Getting help from a lawyer who specializes in workplace issues is also something you can consider. These protections exist so that you can speak up without being scared, creating a safer workplace for everyone.
Employers have a legal duty to respect these rights and act on concerns rather than punishing you for raising them.
Contact the OSHA For Help
In 2021, there was a 37.1% decrease in reported non-fatal workplace illnesses compared to 2020. This decrease shows how important the OSHA’s role is in making sure workplaces are safe.
If you need help with health risks, reporting injuries, safety rules, or anything else about your job, you can contact the OSHA directly:
- Call their toll-free number at 1-800-321-OSHA.
- Find the nearest OSHA office by searching online.
- Email your question or worry to the OSHA hotline.
When you talk to the OSHA, it’s private. Don’t be afraid to get in touch, even if it’s for small problems—your health matters to them.
Know Your Employer’s Responsibilities
Knowing what your employer needs to do to keep the workplace safe is really important. Employers have a legal duty to make sure that the workplace is secure. They need to find out if there are things that could be dangerous, put things in place to stop accidents, and make sure everyone gets proper training.
Your employer should tell you about any risks and teach you how to stay safe. They should also give you the right tools and instructions for what to do in emergencies. If something seems unsafe, you can say no without getting into trouble.
If you see a problem with health or safety, your employer should fix it fast. They need to look into the issue and make it better so that no one gets hurt. Employers have to do these things to create a workplace where safety is a big deal, and people can work without worrying about getting hurt.
- What should I do if there’s an emergency at work?
Address any immediate safety needs, if possible, such as containing a spill or shutting down faulty equipment. Report the situation to your supervisor and the OSHA if the hazard remains unresolved.
- Does the OSHA cover me?
The OSHA protects most public and private sector employees at the federal, state, and local levels. The main exceptions are self-employed workers, immediate family members on farms, and workplace hazards regulated by another federal agency.
- What if I’m injured on the job?
Seek any needed medical care right away. Report the injury to your employer and doctor. Always understand your rights and responsibilities for injured workers in your state. Lastly, document the details of the incident while they are still fresh in your mind, and request a copy of the injury report.
The Bottom Line
Suffering an injury at work can be destabilizing, but knowing your rights puts the power back in your hands. With the OSHA as an ally, you can take action to assert a safe, just, and dignified workplace. Report any safety hazards, stay informed, and don’t hesitate to demand better for yourself and your colleagues.