An overview of workplace safety rights

You probably wonder, what is the extent of your right to a safe work environment? The majority of your rights are enumerated under two sets of law, federal law in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSH Act), and in your respective state law which supplements your federal rights. The OSHA Act established that workers are entitled to a safe workplace and that it is the duty of the employers to ensure that safe work environment. But the OSH Act does not grant employees blanket rights to forestall every possible danger; it balances the right to safety against the burden on the employer. This post will go over that balancing act and how it affects you. 

The OSH Act requires workplaces to be free from "recognized hazards." A recognized hazard is one that is likely to cause serious injury or death to the employees. Recognized hazards must be readily apparent, for example, including fire protection systems, safety devices for heavy machinery, protective gear from caustic or dangerous substances, and first-aid services. All of these safety systems are designed to prevent recognized harms. 

But employers are not required to remove every possible danger from the workplace altogether. For example, your boss does not have to provide you with organic, healthy food options every single day for lunch or at the company cafeteria. While providing you with only healthy options ensures you will stave off heart disease, it is not a recognized danger. 

Did you or a co-worker suffer an injury from a workplace accident? After you obtain medical attention, you may want to consult with an attorney. As illustrated above, you are entitled to a reasonably safe workplace. But if you do suffer injuries, you have a right to worker's compensation to pay for your medical bills and replace any lost wages. A lawyer can help you obtain your compensation in a quick and efficient manner.  


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