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What should I know about safety in the workplace?

Authored By: GeorgiaLegalAid.org
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OSHA laws on safety in the workplace

What should I know? +

Contents


What laws cover safety at work?

As an employee, you have the right to a safe workplace. There are many laws that say what an employer must do to create a safe workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for enforcing those laws. Among other things, these laws require employers to:

  • Make sure your workplace is free from serious hazards,

  • Inspect the workplace to make sure it is safe and is up to OSHA standards,

  • Give you safe tools and equipment to do your job,

  • Warn you of potential hazards in the workplace,

  • Have procedures safety and health rules in place and tell employees about these rules,

  • Give training in a language and way that workers can understand,

  • Train employees on how to avoid exposure and what to do if they are exposed to hazards in their workplace,

  • In some cases, provide medical exams,

  • Post all posters required by OSHA, including a poster informing workers of their rights,

  • Report serious work-related injuries,

  • Keep records of all work injuries,

  • Allow you to see your medical and exposure records, and

  • Not retaliate against you if you file a safety or health complaint.

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What are my safety rights at work?

You have the right to file a confidential complaint about any safety concerns. You also have the right to be protected from retaliation if you file a complaint. People who report safety and health concerns in the workplace are called “whistleblowers” and there are laws in place to protect them. Your employer cannot treat you badly because you brought up a safety or health issue. This treatment might include:

  • Giving you a demotion,

  • Denying you benefits, 

  • Firing or laying you off,

  • Making threats or intimidating you,

  • Reducing your hours or pay,

  • Suspending you,

  • Reassigning you to a worse position or location,

  • Denying you a promotion or overtime, or 

  • Refusing to hire or rehire you.

 

If you are retaliated against, you have the right to file a complaint with OSHA. You must file a complaint within the time limits in the whistleblower law (generally within 30 days).

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What can I do? +

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How can I report a safety concern?

You can file a confidential safety or health complaint with OSHA. Someone else can also file a complaint for you. File a complaint:

 

If you have questions, you can contact OHSA:

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How can I file a complaint for retaliation?

If you believe your employer retaliated against you for complaining about a safety or health issue in the workplace, you can file a complaint with OSHA. There are various time limits for when you can file a retaliation complaint, so you should file your complaint as soon as possible. Some time limits are as little as 30 days

 

File a complaint:

 

If you have questions, you can contact OHSA:

 

After you file the complaint, OSHA will investigate. If they agree that your employer retaliated against you, they will order your employer to take action. OSHA may order your employer to:

  • Give you your job back,

  • Pay you earnings you should have received, 

  • Give you benefits you missed out on, or 

  • Any other relief that may be appropriate. 

 

If you do not agree with OSHA’s conclusion, you can appeal the case to an administrative law judge.

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Resources

Last Review and Update: Mar 09, 2020