Sadly, we see news stories every day that cover injured workers whose lives are forever changed by an accident at work. They bring to light the dangerous working conditions for dairy farmworkers, the many deaths that plague agricultural workers in general every year and the significant injuries and deaths that those who work on construction sites face every day.
Under federal law, employers are required to provide a safe workplace. Sadly, the failure to abide by the laws and regulations in place to protect workers often results in workers getting injured or killed on the job.
My Employer has Unsafe Work Practices
If your employer has failed to ensure that safe working conditions are present, you can report the violation (ideally in writing) to the employer and to the federal and/or state OSHA office. In addition, under some circumstances, you have the right to refuse to work, such as if:
- You (as the worker) have a reasonable, good faith belief that the condition poses an immediate and substantial risk of serious physical injury or death;
- The employer will not fix the dangerous condition;
- The immediacy of the issue does not allow you to first report the condition to OSHA or another appropriate state agency; and
- You do not have a reasonable alternative.
Your employer is prohibited, by law, from retaliating against you if you file a complaint about unsafe working conditions.
Who do I Notify When I am Injured at Work?
If you are injured at work, immediately inform your supervisor so that you preserve your right to receive workers’ compensation, if applicable.
How do I Know if My Employer has Violated OSHA Standards?
OSHA provides employees and their representatives with the right to file a complaint and request an OSHA inspection of their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards. It is important to note that workers do not have to know whether a specific OSHA standard has been violated in order to file this complaint. However, you do need to act quickly: OSHA citations may only be issued for violations that currently exist or existed in the past six months.
If you are concerned that you are potentially dealing with a dangerous working condition, or you have already been injured on the job, speak with one of our experienced work injury attorneys right away. We service clients in and around Houston, Texas. Contact us today for a consultation and we will discuss next steps.
In addition to complying with the standards, rules, and regulations under the OSH Act of 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) puts forth several key responsibilities for employers, such as:
- Providing a workplace free from serious recognized hazards;
- Examining workplace conditions to make sure they comply with relevant legal standards;
- Making sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment;
- Properly maintaining this equipment;
- Using whatever is necessary to warn employees about potential hazards (such as color codes, posters, labels, and/or signs);
- Establishing or updating procedures and communicating them as necessary such that employees can follow safety and health requirements;
- Providing safety training in a language (using vocabulary) that workers can understand;
- If you work with hazardous chemicals in the workplace, developing and implementing a written hazard communication program and training employees on proper precautions that should be taken, making a copy of safety data sheets ready available to said employees;
- Providing medical examinations and training when required by the standards;
- Posting the OSHA poster in a prominent location within the workplace so that employees are informed of their rights and responsibilities;
- Reporting all work-related fatalities within eight hours and inpatient hospitalizations, amputations, and/or loss of eyes within 24 hours to the nearest OSHA office;
- Keeping records of all work-related injuries and illnesses (with certain exemptions);
- Providing all current and former employees and their representatives with access to the log of work-related injuries and illnesses;
- Providing access to employee medical and exposure records to employees and their authorized representatives;
- Providing the OSHA compliance officer with the names of authorized employee representatives who may accompany the officer during inspections;
- Ensuring that they do not discriminate against employees who exercise their rights (i.e. following the law on Whistleblower protection);
- Posting OSHA citations at or near the work area involved; and
- Correcting any cited violations by the deadline established in the OSHA citation; while following up by submitting the required abatement verification documentation.