WORKERS’ RIGHTS

The federal OSHA Act grants workers a number of rights in addition to the right to a safe and healthful workplace. OSHA prohibits employers from firing or laying off, blacklisting, demoting, denying overtime or promotion, disciplining, denying benefits, failing to hire or rehire, intimidating, threatening, reassigning affecting prospects for promotion, or reducing pay or the hours of work or retaliating in any way against a worker that files a complaint or exercises his or her OSHA rights.

Worker rights generally include:

  • The right to be provided with most personal protective equipment (i.e., respirators, goggles, or earplugs) free of charge, when use of the equipment is required.
  • The right to view information that employers collect on workplace hazards.
  • The right to know what hazards are present in the workplace and how to protect themselves. To ensure that workers can exercise this right, employers must
    • Use color codes, posters, labels, and signs to warn employees of potential hazards
    • Provide employees with their normal rate of pay to attend training required by OSHA standard and rules. This training must be in a language and vocabulary that workers can understand.
    • Inform and train workers about hazardous chemicals in the workplace by:
        • Providing workers with effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in their work areas.
        • Keeping a current list of hazards that are in the workplace.
        • Making sure that hazardous chemical containers are properly labeled with the identity of the hazardous chemical and appropriate warning hazard.
        • Having and making available to workers and their representatives Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for each substance. SDSs must provide detailed information about chemical hazards, their effects, how to prevent exposure, and emergency treatment if exposure occurs.
  • The right to know about the OSH act. As a result, employers are required to comply with certain poster requirements. 
  • The right, under the OSHA Recordkeeping Rule to obtain copies of records of work-related injuries and illnesses. 
  • The right to the results of exposure monitoring tests. OSHA requires employers to test workplace environments to determine whether workers are being exposed to harmful levels of hazardous substances such as lead, asbestos , or high levels of noise or radiation. 
  • The right to access medical records. Some OSHA standards require employers to conduct medical tests to find out if exposure at work has affected worker health. Workers have a right to access their own medical records. 
  • The right to file a complaint with OSHA and request an on-site inspection of their workplace. Workers may file these complaints and requests if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA standards or rules. Workers have the right to remain anonymous when they make these reports or requests.
  • If the local OSHA office decides not to inspect a workplace, workers have the right to receive an explanation of the reasons behind the decisions. Workers can appeal this decision with their regional OSHA office. 
  • During an OSHA inspection, workers have the right to:
    • Accompany the OSHA compliance officer, or appoint an employee representative to accompany the compliance officer;
    • Talk privately with the compliance officer; and
    • Take part in the inspection’s opening and closing conferences (or appoint an employee representative to participate on their behalf).
    • When a citation is issued, workers have the right to contest the amount of time the employer is given to correct the hazard. The notice of contest must be filed with OSHA within 15 days of the date when the citation is issued, In addition, while employers may challenge the citation in its entirety,  workers may elect to participate in this challenge by requesting “party status.”
Search