Workplace Health and Safety: Employer Obligations and Employee Rights
Injuries change lives at a moment’s notice. Unfortunately, these injuries sometimes happen while you’re at work. In this post, you’ll learn about workplace health and safety rules employers must follow. We’ll also cover your rights if an employer commits employee safety violations.
What Does Workplace Health and Safety Mean?
Workplace health and safety is the practice of keeping employees healthy and safe while they are at their place of work. Also known as occupational health or occupational safety, these terms all have the same goal: safe workplaces.
Safety and health in the workplace focuses on employees’ mental and physical well-being. Having a safe workplace means one that is free from dangers. Companies can also offer counseling or other mental health-related services. Some businesses implement incentives for workers to remain in good physical health.
The movement for safety in the workplace truly started in 1970. This was when the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) became official. Today, OSHA remains the federal body creating and updating workplace safety standards.
An Employer’s Obligations
Whether a company operates privately or publicly, all businesses must follow federal and state safety standards. As you can imagine, employers who don’t follow workplace health and safety laws can cause severe injuries and deaths.
The obligations employers must follow include:
- Maintaining a safe workplace free from obvious hazards such as wet floors, tripping hazards, adequate lighting, and blocked exits.
- Continually training new hires and employees about health and safety matters.
- Providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to its employees that can include eyewear, hard hats, and similar items.
- Inspecting workplaces, equipment, vehicles, and other items employees use to conduct job-related activities.
- Implementing and updating their workplace health and safety policies for employees based on federal and state law changes.
The Rights of Employees
As employers have obligations by law, employees have rights. These rights help ensure hard-working adults have fair opportunities to earn a living.
One of the most important employee rights is the right to a safe workplace. Employees also have the right to report their employer for health and safety violations. After submitting a report to OSHA, this agency uses its rights to conduct inspections and investigations on law-violating businesses. If you were harmed due to the negligence of your employer or a third party it is important to speak with a qualified work accident attorney prior to going to OSHA to ensure your rights are protected.
Employees also have the right to have access to information about workplace injuries. An employee may also request and receive test results concerning workplace hazards.
What to Do When Employers Violate Employee Safety
Thankfully, most companies take workplace health and safety matters seriously. However, some businesses or their employees have no regard for workplace safety. When your safety in the workplace is in jeopardy, here’s what to do.
1. Let Your Manager or Supervisor Know
There’s always a first person to discover dangers leading to an unsafe workplace. If that’s you, a safety issue might be happening because no one knows about it. So, reporting safety issues to your workplace’s proper authority might be the only way anyone finds out.
Hopefully, reporting a safety issue leads your employer to fix it. If that doesn’t happen, you have other options.
2. Document What’s Happening
If an employer isn’t taking care of safety violations, it’s time to document what’s happening. Whether you can provide documents, pictures, or something similar, gather as much evidence as safely and legally possible.
You’ll also want to have your personal information and basic information about where you work available. Everything completed in this step makes the next step easy to complete.
3. If You are Injured, Hire an Attorney
Employers may be negligent with respect to workplace safety. If you have been injured, the burden of proving your case may be lower for you if your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance. What does this mean? It is easier to win your case if your employer is a nonsubscriber to workers’ compensation insurance.
Workplace health and safety matters can become life-threatening situations. If your employer isn’t taking your safety and health rights seriously, it’s time to contact a law firm. Hodges & Foty has over 50 years of combined experience standing up for the rights of hard-working people. Contact Hodges & Foty for a free legal evaluation.