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OSHA’s Employee Bill of Rights

When you think about workplace safety, you probably focus on the responsibilities that employees have to work safely. But don’t forget, they have rights, too.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act gives your employees 14 specific workplace rights. Workers have the right to: 

  1. Review copies of appropriate standards, rules, regulations, and requirements that you are required to have available at the workplace.
  2. Request information about safety and health hazards in the workplace, appropriate precautions to take, and procedures to follow if involved in an accident or exposed to hazardous substances
  3. Gain access to relevant personal exposure and medical records.
  4. Request an OSHA inspection if they believe hazardous conditions or violations of standards exist in the workplace
  5. Accompany an OSHA compliance officer during the inspection tour, or have an authorized employee representative do so.
  6. Respond to questions from the OSHA compliance officer
  7. Observe any monitoring or measuring of hazardous materials and see the resulting records, as required by OSHA standards.
  8. Review or have an authorized representative review your Log of Work-Related Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA 300) at a reasonable time and in a reasonable manner.
  9. Object to the time frame set by OSHA for you to correct a violation by writing to the OSHA area director within 15 working days from the date you receive a citation.
  10. Submit a written request to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for information on whether any substance in the workplace has potentially toxic effects in the concentration being used, and, if requested,  have the workers’ names withheld from you.
  11. Be notified if you apply for a variance from an OSHA standard, and have an opportunity to testify at a variance hearing and appeal the final decision.
  12. Have their names withheld from you, by request, if they sign and file a written complaint.
  13. Be advised of OSHA actions regarding a complaint, and request an informal review of any decision not to inspect the site or issue a citation.
  14. File a complaint if punished or discriminated against for acting as a “whistleblower” under the OSH Act or 13 other federal statutes for which OSHA has jurisdiction, or for refusing to work when faced with imminent danger of death or serious injury and there is insufficient time for OSHA to inspect.

Employee Responsibilities

Along with rights, of course, come responsibilities. Although OSHA can’t directly cite workers for regulatory violations, it does require that each employee “shall comply with all [applicable] occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued under the Act.”

This means your employees are responsible for:

  • Reading the OSHA poster posted in your workplace
  • Complying with all applicable OSHA standards
  • Following all lawful employer safety and health rules and regulations, and using assigned PPE while working
  • Reporting hazardous conditions to a supervisor
  • Reporting any job-related injury or illness and seeking prompt treatment
  • Cooperating with OSHA compliance officers conducting inspections
  • Exercising rights under the OSH Act in a responsible manner

Tomorrow, we’ll take a closer look at a couple of OSHA-mandated employee rights that sometimes get employers in trouble.

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Categories: Safety
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