How safe is your workplace?
Under the rules and regulations imposed on employers by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, employees have a right to know whether or not their employer is doing a good job of keeping them safe.
The OSHA regulations include some key provisions that are designed to keep employees informed about workplace safety issues:
—Any employer with hazardous chemicals in the workplace has to have a written hazard communication program. Employees have to be informed about the hazards to which they are being exposed and trained on proper precautions for handling those chemical hazards.
—The OSHA poster (or equivalent state plan) that informs employees of their rights and responsibilities needs to be posed at a prominent location. That way, employees know about their right to a safe workplace and know how to report their concerns to a higher authority if their bosses aren't complying.
—With a few exceptions, employers are required to keep a log of all work-related injuries and illnesses.
—Employers have to give employees, former employees and their authorize representatives access to the log of work-related injuries illnesses upon request.
—A summary of the log is supposed to be posted every Feb. 1, where employees can read it. It should remain posted for three months, so that employees can review the record for themselves.
—If an employer is cited by OSHA for a safety violation, the notice of the citation is supposed to be posted at or near the work area involved. It has to remain in place until the issue is resolved or for a minimum of three days, if the issue is revolved sooner.
—Employers need to give employees or their authorized representative access to on-site medical records and records of exposure to hazardous materials upon request.
The goal of these regulations is to make workers more informed about the true conditions they're working under—that way an employer can't try to convince employees that unnecessary hazards are "normal" and safety violations aren't happening.
Did your employer keep you in the dark about the extent of the hazards you were facing at work? Were you injured as a result?