Workplace Injuries: Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was enacted in 1970, and requires every employer to provide a workplace free from dangers that might cause death or serious physical injury to employees. OSHA bars only recognized dangers-an unforeseeable accident would not violate OSHA-but does not contain specific limits as to what kinds of workplace hazards are covered. Any danger, such as faulty equipment, airborne pollutants, or spilled products, may violate OSHA if the danger is likely to cause death or injury.

In addition, employers are required to post an Occupational Safety and Health Protection on the Job poster in the workplace, alerting employees to their right to be free of workplace dangers. An employee who notices a hazardous condition in the workplace should notify the employer and, if the employer fails to take action, may file a complaint with the local OSHA office operated by the U.S. Department of Labor. An employee may also ask the OSHA Area Director to conduct an inspection of the workplace if the employee believes that a hazardous condition exists. An employee who files a written complaint may ask to have his or her name withheld from the employer.

OSHA gives employees the right to see medical information regarding employee exposure to hazardous conditions, observe any monitoring of hazardous materials, see records regarding the use of those materials (such as Material Safety Data Sheets), and appoint a representative to accompany the OSHA compliance officer during any inspection tour. Employees also have the right to be notified by the employer if it seeks a variance from OSHA standards. Finally, an employee may refuse to work when faced with imminent danger of death or serious physical injury in the workplace.

Meeting with Your Employment Law Attorney

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