It’s a federal law for employers create safe workplaces. According to OSHA, employers must keep workplaces free of known health and safety hazards, and provide protections where it’s not reasonable to avoid those hazards. Just because it’s a federal requirement doesn’t guarantee that your workplace will make sure your employer complies, which is why you as a worker have rights of your own to help you use your voice and protect your safety and that of your fellow workers.
You have the right to speak up about any hazards in your workplace without being afraid that you’ll face negative consequences for speaking up. It’s illegal for employers to retaliate against workers who use their rights and complain to OSHA—you cannot be fired, demoted, transferred, or otherwise be affected by your complaint. Your other rights include the following:
- Receive workplace health and safety training in a language that you understand;
- Have safe machines to work on;
- Receive the required safety equipment, like gloves or harnesses and lifelines. This equipment is expected to be appropriate for the job, not expired, tested often, free from excessive wear and tear, etc.;
- Be protected from toxic chemicals and other environmental hazards;
- Request an OSHA inspector, and be able to speak to them;
- Report any onsite injuries or illnesses and get copies of your medical records;
- Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses;
- See the results of any tests that are taken to find onsite hazards.
Arming yourself with worksite safety knowledge can help you make your case and find the words to speak up for yourself. The OSHA website has answers to frequently asked questions about workplace rights and responsibilities as well as information on applicable laws and standards.
When to File a Complaint
Provided you’re comfortable doing so and it’s possible, you might want to tell your employer about your concerns. Otherwise, if you believe that your working conditions are unsafe or unhealthy, it might be time to file a confidential complaint with OSHA. Ask for an inspection of your workplace to check for hazards.
If you need to discuss a health and safety issue at your workplace, you can call or email OSHA, or contact your nearest OSHA office directly. As stated before, you have the right to be protected from retaliation, and your information will be kept confidential if you do file a complaint. If you think that you’ve been retaliated against for filing a complaint, file a whistleblower complaint within 30 days of the retaliation.
Your Safety Supply Partner
We’ve been protecting workers for over 70 years with our safety products, workwear, and knowledge, and we’re going to keep offering the best protection and expertise we can for years to come. While it takes contacting OSHA to remedy serious worksite safety issues, we can answer your worksite questions and recommend the gear that will help keep you safer on the job. To get in touch with a safety expert that can answer your questions, use our online contact form or call 800.829.9580.