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What's the primary right of workers?

As an employee, you have a right to work in a safe environment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) covers most employers and employees in the private sector and provides regulations and oversight to keep workplaces safe. If there has ever been an injury in your workplace, OSHA likely responded and assessed if the employer should receive a violation or fines.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act does not cover self-employed individuals, certain family members of farm employers or those covered by other agencies, like those who work with the Coast Guard or Department of Energy.

Workers have the right to work in a safe environment based on OSHA's regulations and oversight. Employers have the general duty to provide a workplace free from recognized safety threats and hazards. For example, if you work in a job where falls are likely, your employer should provide fall protection. Those who work with machinery should not be exposed to unnecessary dangers, and machinery should have safety guards installed. Workplaces should be monitored for toxins and harmful levels of substances like lead or asbestos.

If your employer doesn't do these things and you end up getting hurt, you should have the right to obtain workers' compensation and to file a complaint with OSHA. It's important to file the complaint so that your coworkers and others who may work for your employer are not exposed to the same dangers in the future. Your attorney can help you understand the steps to take if you want to report a hazard or dangerous workplace to OSHA.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Workers' Rights," accessed June 07, 2018

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