What every worker should know about OSHA

Every employee has rights that need to be respected by their employer. One of those important rights is the right to have a safe working environment. And this right is being protected by the law through OSHA.

But what is OSHA? Read on to learn more.

OSHA: What is it?

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was created and passed in order to protect workers from severe dangers at work by requiring employers to provide their workers with a danger-free workplace.

To strengthen and ensure that the law is being implemented accordingly, the act created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA which sets and enforces protective workplace safety as well as health standards. Moreover, OSHA also disseminates information, conduct training, and assistance to both workers and employers.

As a dedicated organization in promoting a safe and healthy working environment, OSHA extends its worker-support through the following:

  • Giving workers access to information and training about work hazards and methods or ways to prevent harm in the workplace. It also discloses information regarding the specific standards that apply to each employee’s workplace.
  • OSHA allows workers to see first-hand or observe tests done to identify hazards in the workplace and view the results.
  • Giving employees the right to review the company or workplace’s work-related injuries and illnesses
  • Giving employees the right to get copies of their medical records.
  • OSHA also gives workers the right to request workplace inspection and use their rights as the law stated without the fear of retaliation and discrimination.

OSHA Coverage

Private Sector Workers

OSHA covers all employers and employees in all 50 states of the US including those in the private sector. In some states, however, like the District of Columbia, and other US jurisdictions, employees and employers are covered indirectly through Federal OSHA or through an OSHA-approved state program. State-run health programs though should be as effective as the Federal OSHA program.

State and Local Government Workers

State and local government employees aren’t covered by Federal OSHA. However, they are still protected through OSHA-approved state programs. Below are the four additional states and one US territory that have OSHA approved plans which cover government employees only.

  1. Connecticut
  2. Illinois
  3. New Jersey
  4. New York
  5. The Virgin Islands

Private employees in these states are covered by Federal OSHA.

Federal Government Workers

OSHA may not be filing fines against federal agencies but it does monitor and responds to workers’ complaints as federal agencies are required to have a safety and health program that meet the same standards as that of private employers.

Who aren’t covered by OSHA?

Like all other laws, OSHA has limitations as to coverage. Among those are:

  1. Self-employed
  2. Immediate family members of farm employers without employees that are not blood-related.
  3. Employees covered and protected by another federal agency like the Mine Safety and Health Administration, FAA, and Coast Guard.

If you suspect an OSHA violation, speak out. You have rights as an employee, and there are rules in place to protect you against retaliation for reporting a legitimate safety concern.