Employees have the right to be safe at work. And more importantly, employers have the responsibility of creating this safe work environment. To ensure that these safe workplaces exist, the federal government created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
OSHA was created in 1970 with the primary purpose of reducing injuries, illnesses, and deaths caused by workplace hazards. The goal was to develop long term solutions for workplace safety. And since its inception in 1970, the number of workplace fatalities is down 60%, and workplace illnesses are down 40%.
Odds are if you are looking for information on OSHA, you or someone you love has been hurt on the job or is working in an unsafe environment. So, let’s take a look at what OSHA does for American workers. And then, let’s talk about what you should do if you or someone you love has been injured on the job.
What does OSHA do?
Put simply, OSHA has three standards for reducing workplace deaths, injuries, and illnesses.
- It enforces safety rules and regulations in the workplace.
- It offers education and compliance assistance.
- It promotes partnerships, alliances, and other voluntary and cooperative programs.
It is through these standards that OSHA develops and enforces the safety standards for employers. The majority of their influence and enforcement can be seen the construction, health care, and industrial industries—where workplace illness and injury are increased.
While OSHA does enforce workplace safety standards, their primary goal is preventing accidents and injuries before they occur. So, the agency takes a proactive approach and trains and educates employers on workplace health and safety.
Who does OSHA protect?
It’s OSHA’s job to protect employees in the private sector as well as federal workers. OSHA does not protect state workers, the self-employed, and any federal agency that regulated by a separate governmental agency.
There is one small difference between how OSHA can manage violations. The agency can fine employers in the private sector, but it cannot fine federal agencies.
What rights do workers have?
American workers have the right to work in a place that is both safe and healthy. That means it’s your employers’ responsibility to create a working environment that encompasses your rights. If your workplace is not safe, OSHA will fine your employee and take the appropriate measures to make sure that it becomes safe.
You also have the right to report your employer if your rights are being violated. Every employer is required to have a procedure mapped out for employees to report unsafe working conditions or injuries on the job. It’s important to note that if your employer deliberately gets in the way of your right to file a report, you can report him directly to OSHA.
Many workers are afraid to report an injury or unsafe conditions. So, it’s important to note that OSHA regulations prohibit retaliation by employers. So, they cannot fire you or discriminate against you if you reach out to OSHA for assistance or to file a complaint.
What impact has OSHA had on the American workforce?
Like any other regulatory agency, OSHA has brought about some changes to the American workforce. First and foremost, it helps to create much safer working environments across the country.
Since OSHA began regulating employers, the US workforce has benefitted significantly.
- Occupational injuries and illnesses have dropped by 40%.
- The workforce has nearly doubled, growing from 56 million workers to 105 million workers.
- The number of worksites has grown from 3.5 million worksites to 6.9 million worksites.
What do I if I am hurt on the job?
Regardless of where you work, the most important thing to do if you are hurt on the job is to seek medical attention. If you are seriously injured, do not wait around, call 911 and get help immediately.
If your injury is minor, you should follow the procedure that your employer has in place for you. But, you should also take a few additional steps to protect yourself. In the day and age of cell phones, it is wise to take a picture of the accident scene. This way if anything comes into question, you have evidence of the scene.
It’s also wise to write down the names of anyone who witnessed your accident. Again, the more people who can verify your story is factual, the better off you are.
Lastly, it cannot hurt to reach out to an attorney. They are skilled in handling workers’ comp issues. You cannot allow your family to suffer financially because you are injured. The right attorney can guide you through the recovery process so that you can keep paying your bills.
When your loved one gets hurt on the job, it’s frightening. And, you need to look for answers so that you can continue living. Your bills don’t stop just because you are hurt.
OSHA has made tremendous gains in reducing workplace injury and holding the employer accountable for creating safer work environments. But OSHA inspectors are not on the job site every day.
This is why you must educate yourself on your rights as an employee. And, if you think that you need a lawyer for your rights to be protected, then reach out. You can’t afford to get hurt at work. Your family depends on you. Make the call if you need to.