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You have a right to a safe workplace

We write a lot about what rights workers are afforded in the workplace, especially when it comes to protection from harassment, discrimination and retaliation. But did you know you also have a right to a certain amount of safety?

Clearly, no employer can make a workplace 100 percent resistant to accidents, and some workplaces are more dangerous than others. Someone working as a data-entry clerk in an office environment is less likely to experience injury than someone working in deep-sea diving or construction environments, for example. But all employers are required by law to work toward the safety of employees.

The Occupational Safety and Health act provides you with a federal right to some level of safety. Your employer must follow certain safety requirements, provide you with appropriate training and ensure equipment and tools used on the job are safe and well maintained. If you notice a safety issue in your workplace, you also have a right to report it to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. As with reporting discrimination or sexual harassment, employers cannot retaliate against you for making a report to OSHA.

Not only do you have a right to report to OSHA, but you also have a right to review and inspect certain documents and information yourself. You have a right to your worker-related medical records, and you have a right to see logs and other evidence regarding maintenance inspections. Employers cannot usually withhold information about how they maintain equipment.

If you are retaliated against for making a safety complaint or if you are not being provided with safety information you believe is appropriate, then consider speaking to an employee rights lawyer. He or she can help you take steps to file a claim or seek resolution on the matter.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Workers' Rights," accessed Aug. 26, 2016

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