In 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed, creating the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This agency creates and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards. It has set forth specific rules related to workplace injuries, and understanding them is vital for all employers.
According to OSHA, your general responsibility as a business owner is clear. You must provide a workplace free of known safety and health hazards. Should one of your workers become injured on the job, he or she has the right to report the injury to OSHA and other authorities without retaliation from you.
Other Employee Rights Protected By OSHA
Furnishing your workers with a safe environment means more than simply removing physical dangers. You must also make sure to do the following:
- Train workers in a language they understand.
- Provide machinery and equipment that is safe and well-maintained.
- Use colored signs, labels and posters to warn employees of potential danger.
- Establish and update safety procedures and make sure employees understand them.
- Provide training and medical examinations in accordance with OSHA standards.
- Prominently post the OSHA poster which outlines employee rights.
- Report all work-related fatalities to OSHA within eight hours and all work-related inpatient hospitalizations and amputations within 24 hours.
- Keep a log of all work-related injuries and make it available to workers and former employees upon request.
- Dispense all necessary safety gear that is used in your industry. Examples are harnesses, lifelines and gloves.
- Take steps to protect workers from poisonous chemicals.
- Communicate to employees that it is their right to request an OSHA inspection and to speak to the federal representative.
Following these OSHA requirements is a must, and so is purchasing insurance coverage for worker injuries. Obtaining a comprehensive worker’s compensation policy will provide your injured worker with financial remuneration for medical expenses and lost wages. In addition, it will protect you from a potentially costly and time-consuming liability claim.
If you don’t have a safety and illness prevention program in place or if you haven’t reviewed it recently, the time to act is now. Any good program involves full management participation, worker buy-in, hazard identification, prevention and control, education, training and program improvement when necessary. Making it a point to follow all of OSHA’s guidelines is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your employees continue to work safely and effectively together.