The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 is a US labor law that governs the federal law of occupational health and safety in the private sector and federal government. Congress enacted the Act and President Richard Nixon signed it into law.
The Act is to assure safe and healthful working conditions for workers. The Act does not cover the self-employed, family farms, or workplaces that are covered by other federal laws, such as railroads, airlines, and mining. Employers can face harsh penalties for violating the OSH Act.
OSHA Standards are the rules that are in place to ensure that employers do not subjected to avoidable hazards. There are standards set for maritime operations, general industry, and construction work.
OSHA standards require employers to offer fall protection, provide equipment and measures to prevent trench cave-ins, protocol to prevent infectious disease, ensure workers can enter a confined space safely, prevention of exposures to harmful substances or inhalants, and making sure machinery has the proper safety guards, provide employees safety gear such as respirators, and ensuring that workers have access to the proper training.
What Are Unsafe Work Environments or Conditions?
As an example, if you work construction and are around asbestos that must be removed, your employer must provide you with a respirator and protection to ensure you do not breathe in the inhalants. If you work at elevated locations, such as on scaffolds, your employer must provide fall protection, such as harnesses.
If you work in a medical field, you should have access to protective gear to help shield you from infectious disease. If you do not have access to the necessary safety gear, you have grounds to pursue a claim against your employer for violating OSHA guidelines.
How To Report Unsafe Working Conditions
Your first step in pursuing a claim will be to tell your employer that you have concerns. Be sure to provide specific details. You will need to document everything and put it in writing. Make sure you make note of the date and time of the complaint and who you spoke with about the matter.
If your employer does not properly address your complaint, or if a satisfactory resolution is not reached, you should pursue a complaint with the local OSHA office. You can file a complaint by email, mail, or fax. You can also call 1-800-321-6742 to start the claim over the phone or to schedule an appointment at your local OSHA office.
Protections After Filing an OSHA Complaint
If you file a complaint because your employer violated OSHA, you are protected. You are considered a whistleblower for reporting illegal and/or unsafe conditions. They cannot terminate you, demote you, reduce your hours, or reduce your salary simply because you reported their inappropriate actions.
If your employer retaliates against you for being a whistleblower, you may have grounds to pursue a lawsuit against your employer. You do have limited time for pursuing a claim, so be sure to act promptly.