Regardless of whether you’ve read them, you’ve probably seen Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) posters around your workplace. Employers must inform workers of certain rights and regulations.
However, you may not fully understand the importance of this government agency’s guidelines. In case of an accident or illness related to your job, you might want to refer to the federal organization’s oversight of employers.
OSHA’s influence on your workplace
Part of the United States Department of Labor, OSHA is accountable to the Secretary of Labor. Since created by Congress in 1970, the agency has established and enforced safe working conditions through education, outreach and training. Because most employers are accountable to OSHA, you have protected rights on the job.
Employees have rights
Employers must clear workplaces from known health or safety hazards, with a common goal of preventing injuries.
As such, you can recognize your right to:
- Be protected from toxic chemicals
- Report a work-related injury or illness
- Receive proper training necessary to safely complete your duties
- Raise concerns about potential dangers
- Request an OSHA inspection
Additional protections make it illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for utilizing available protections. If you lose your job for filing a report of injury, for example, you can file a whistleblower complaint, which could result in recourse, contingent on the organization’s investigative findings.
Workers’ compensation in relation to OSHA
If you need to seek medical attention and miss time from work because of a job-related illness or injury, you can apply for workers’ compensation benefits. If approved, your employer-funded insurance plan will cover the costs of your medical care. Depending on how long you must be away from work, you could also receive cash benefits and, potentially, occupational rehabilitation to aid in the transition into a new field.
OSHA maintains records of specific illnesses and injuries to evaluate safety risks and trends among different industries, which can affect future regulatory efforts. Meanwhile, if you suffered harm because your employer violated federal laws, OSHA can determine consequences and hold your employer liable for their negligence.
Ultimately, OSHA and workers’ compensation are two very different programs – one designed to mitigate workplace risk, the other to help after the fact. Yet, they share the central focus of employees’ best interests.