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Does My Employer Have a Duty to Provide a Safe Workplace?

Employees have a right to a safe workplace, and employers have a duty to provide it to them. Employers also have a duty to provide employees with safety equipment and tools to complete their work. Accordingly, employers have a duty to inspect the workplace and equipment during reasonable intervals to check for any unsafe conditions.

OSH Act – Employer Duties

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), employers have specific responsibilities to their employees, including:

  • Provide a safe workplace that is free from recognized, serious hazards
  • Inspect the workplace for unsafe conditions and check to make sure the workplace meets OSHA standards
  • Provide warning signs and labels to alert employees of potential hazards and safety conditions
  • Train employees about the correct way to use the equipment and to handle dangerous chemicals and other substances in the workplace
  • Provide tools and equipment in safe working condition and maintain them for safe use
  • Provide medical examinations as required by OSHA
  • Post citations the employer received from OSHA at or near the work area that led to the citation until the violation has been corrected, or for three working days

Employers also are required to post the OSHA poster, either from the federal office or if the employer operates in a state with its own state-level OSHA office, in a prominent location where employees will have access to it. Employers also must keep records of work-related accidents, injuries, and illnesses, and employees are able to request these records.

Under OSH Act, employers are prohibited from discriminating or taking retaliatory measures against employees who exercise their rights to a safe workplace, including requesting an employer fix a condition the employee feels is unreasonably safe or making a formal complaint to OSHA.

OSH Act – Employee Rights

Employees also have certain rights under OSHA to ensure their right to a safe workplace is realized. These rights include:

  • The right to ask an employer to correct a hazardous or unsafe working condition
  • The right to file a complaint with OSHA about an unsafe working condition and request an OSHA inspector visit the workplace
  • The right to participate in the OSHA investigation, including speaking with the OSHA inspector privately about any injuries, accidents, illnesses, or other information vital to the inspection
  • The right to review the results from the OSHA inspection, and request a review of a decision not to file a citation against the employer

If you feel your rights to a safe workplace have been comprised or your employer has discriminated against you for filing a complaint about an unsafe condition, contact an experienced employment law attorney for more information on the next steps to take.

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