Safety in the Workplace
There are both state and federal laws that protect you from dangerous work conditions and that place a burden on your employer to make sure that your workplace is safe. The most comprehensive and important of workplace safety laws is the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA). OSHA has passed a huge variety of different laws and regulations on everything from work surfaces to ladder and scaffolding safety to noise in the workplace to the number and location of exits in work environments. For a comprehensive list of OSHA regulations relating to workplace safety, visit the OSHA website.Who is in charge of workplace safety violations?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal administrative agency that is in charge of regulating workplaces and taking action when safety violations occur. The Department of Labor Standards in Boston, Massachusetts also regulates workplace safety and is in charge of investigating workplace conditions related to safety hazards, occupational diseases and other risks in the workplace.What if my employer violates workplace safety rules?
If your employer is violating workplace safety rules, you may report the violation to the Massachusetts’ Attorney Generals office by contacting 617-727-3465. You may also file a complaint with the Department of Labor. The Department of Labor has various regional offices throughout Boston. Information about your local regional office can be obtained from the website of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or from the website of the Department of Labor.
It is important to be aware that the law may provide protection from retaliation for employees who report violations of state and federal laws. These whistleblower protections can make it possible for you to take action against your employer without risk to your job.
For help understanding your legal rights or taking action against an employer who is violating workplace safety laws, it is always advisable to seek legal help from an attorney. Your attorney can guide you to the appropriate party or parties to report the violation to and can help you to take advantage of legal protections available.What rights do I have under OSHA?
OSHA provides you with a number of important rights and protections. First and foremost, if your employer is violating safety rules in a way that presents an imminent threat to your health and safety, you have the right to refuse work. You also have the right to be trained on health and safety standards; to get trained on dangerous chemicals in the workplace; to request correction of any hazardous conditions in violation of OSHA; and to request that an OSHA inspection take place.
If an OSHA inspection does take place, you have the right to the results of the inspection. You also have protection if your employer retaliates against you for filing a complaint with OSHA.
These are just a small sampling of the protections provided to you by OSHA. If you suspect your employer is not ensuring your safety or is violating the law in some way, you should consider speaking with a Massachusetts work injury lawyer for assistance in understanding your workplace safety rights.How can I find out if I am working with a hazardous substance at work?
In Massachusetts, there is a “Right to Know” law regarding hazardous or toxic substances in the workplace. Under this law, your employer is required to label dangerous containers; post information on hazards in the workplace; and train you to work safely with the hazardous or toxic materials. You also have the right to request a Material Safety Data Sheet from your employer. This sheet should contain information on all of the properties of the potentially hazardous materials in the workplace and should provide you with information on how to handle them safely.
If your employer is not being forthcoming about potential toxins or hazards at work, you should contact the office of the Massachusetts’ Attorney General at 617-727-3465 or should contact an experienced Boston work injury attorney for help.
Are there any protections against tobacco exposure in the workplace? Except in rare cases, OSHA does not have any provisions related to second hand smoke or tobacco use in the workplace. OSHA does have workplace air quality standards, but these will not typically impact the routine use of tobacco products by employers or co-workers.Are there any protections against violence in the workplace?
Your employer may be obligated to provide security to ensure your safety. This obligation arises if you are working in a high risk position such as working the nightshift in a cash business or working as a security guard or in law enforcement. Your employer may also be obligated to provide security in any situation where there is reason to believe that you are in danger of suffering an injury due to violence in the workplace. If your employer is negligent in providing sufficient security, you may be able to obtain compensation for work-related injuries that develop. To learn more about how you can recover after a work-injury caused by violence your employer failed to present, you should contact a Massachusetts work injury attorney.What if I am injured at work?
If you are injured at work, you may file a claim with your employer in order to obtain benefits through workers’ compensation. The workers’ compensation program will provide you with benefits regardless of whether a safety violation occurred at work or not. Workers’ compensation is a strict liability system and so your right to recover does not hinge on whether your employer was negligent or broke the law.What should I do if I get hurt at work?
If you get injured at work, you should let your employer know right away. This is true if you are injured in an accident, if you are injured due to a repetitive stress condition, or if you become ill as a result of exposure to toxins or hazardous materials. Your employer will then need to notify the workers’ compensation insurer representing you so that you can get benefits under workers’ compensation insurance.
You should also speak with an attorney to learn more about your rights in pursuing compensation for a work injury. The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman can assist you with your claim. Give us a call today to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can help.