If you are wondering who takes responsibility for your health and safety in the workplace then you will be reassured to learn that your employer has certain legal obligations to meet to ensure all employees are protected from danger.
The Department of Labor (DOL) website details which bodies oversee different employment sectors, with the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) responsible for most employees in the US. There are a few exceptions, such as miners, whose workplace safety issues are overseen by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).
Self-employed people and public employees are generally not covered by OSHA, although there are other programs and schemes that you may be able to access. Of course, despite complying with their legal responsibilities, employers are well aware that accidents and injuries at work can and do happen.
This can become a major headache for employees if they find themselves in a position of filing a lawsuit relating to an accident or some other safety issue at work. Legal proceedings can take a very long time to be sorted out, and often a direct legal funding settlement loan is the option that many employees turn to, particularly if they cannot work for a while or if they know they will have to wait for rightful compensation.
If you are a young worker (under 18 years of age) you must comply with certain rules laid down in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including the type of job you are doing, your hours of work and your rates of pay. If you or your employer don’t do this you are at risk of possibly losing entitlements in the event of an accident or injury.
As an employee, there are certain rights regarding your employment to be aware of. For example, if you believe working conditions are unsafe in some way or that they are jeopardizing your health OSHA recommends that first of all, you should bring the problem issues to your employer’s attention. It may be that your employer is unaware of your concerns and can take steps to remedy the situation quickly and easily.
At any time, you can file a complaint with OSHA to report workplace hazards and request an inspection. If the condition could cause serious harm or carries a risk of death, as a worker you may have a legal right to refuse to work until an OSHA inspection has taken place.
If filing a complaint causes problems for you at work, for instance, if your employer retaliates by firing you or downgrading your position, you should contact your local OSHA office immediately. You are empowered to make a whistleblower complaint within 30 days of the action taken against you.
It’s worth being aware of any health and safety issues in your workplace before you start a job, and should you come across something you’re not sure about, ask a few questions to find out why things are done in a certain way. Always use the recommended safety clothing and equipment you are given, even for jobs that will take a relatively short time to complete.