The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is tasked with enforcing and outlining laws that work to protect you while you’re on the job.
If you’re a construction worker, for example, scaffolding can be a dangerous hazard. OSHA has a set of requirements that your employer is forced to follow when erecting scaffolding to prevent construction site accidents while you, are using scaffolding in order to perform your duties at work.
According to OSHA’s website, there are approximately 252,000 construction sites with nearly 6.5 million employees on a given day across the nation, and construction is just one industry that OSHA oversees.
Just this week, OSHA issued its list of the top 10 workplace violations that construction companies were cited for in 2018:
- Fall protection
- Hazard communication
- Respiratory protection
- Powered industrial trucks
- Fall protection – training requirements
- Machine guarding
- Eye and face protection
What’s worth noting is that this list varies very little from year to year. Obviously, companies have a long way to go to improve their safety records if we keep seeing the same violations year after year.
OSHA’s requirements for employers include:
- Training workers regarding hazards
- Providing such training in a language workers can understand
- Keeping accurate records of injuries
- Providing sufficient protective equipment (which employers must also pay for)
- Notify OSHA within eight hours if a death at work occurs
OSHA not only requires employers to comply with certain laws, but they also provide workers with rights should they believe their employer violates those laws, like those listed below.
- Employees have a right to a safe workplace
- Employees have a right to file a confidential complaint with OSHA
- Employees have the right to participate in any OSHA inspection resulting from a complaint and to speak privately with inspector
If you suspect your employer has violated OSHA’s standards, you can submit a complaint that will remain confidential to OSHA. OSHA will then conduct an inspection of your workplace.
While some employees may find this to be a scary choice, fearing their employer will fire them in response, it is important you speak out if you know of any safety violations to protect your safety and the safety of those with whom you work. It is illegal for your company to retaliate in any way if you file an OSHA complaint.
If you are retaliated against or fired as a result of filing an OSHA complaint, be sure to document everything and contact an attorney who handles whistleblower cases/workplace discrimination right away.