Most Americans have the expectation of safety while they work. However, each day in America approximately 150 people die from work related illness or injury, reports the Huffington Post. That number does not reflect more common injuries that occur from repetitive motion, equipment malfunctions, or chemical exposure. While some types of jobs are more dangerous physically than others, just what rights do Americans have when it comes to workplace safety?
The OSH Act
In 1970, Richard Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for employees in the United States. Very specific guidelines concerning asbestos, ergonomics, exposure to blood, and a variety of other health topics may be found at The United States Department of Labor. Some general guidelines that employees should be aware of are
- Generally, all employers and employees are covered, excluding self employed persons, some farms that only employee family members, and industries that are regulated by federal law such as nuclear energy and most mining.
- Employers must keep records in regard to every injury associated with the workplace, and employees have a right to their records.
- Employees are entitled to a workplace that is free of hazards that are known to cause harm.
- Employers must comply with the safety standards set for their industry.
- Employees have a right to report unsafe conditions to OSHA without fear of reprisal.
Problems With Guidelines
Not every job will have the same rigorous guidelines as the next when it comes to safety standards. For instance, a construction job will have different safety guidelines than an office job. However, guidelines that pertain specifically to each industry are set up to ensure safety for employees in that particular field.
Unfortunately, even when guidelines are followed, they are not always 100 percent effective in preventing injury. This is due to human error, the type of job being done, regulations not being followed, or faulty machinery. An example of this is factory work that causes repetitive stress injury, such as line work at a meat packing plant. A factory may be within OSHA guidelines and still have multiple cases of carpal tunnel syndrome reported each year.
Guaranteed Safety and Compensation
Americans are guaranteed safety from certain hazards in the workplace, but despite OSHA guidelines and preventive measures, accidents and oversights are still commonplace. Your employer should take immediate action if you are injured while working. If your injury is not taken seriously or you feel your working conditions are unsafe and caused your injury, it's best to contact OSHA as well as a worker's compensation attorney as quickly as possible. See websites like http://mooneyandassociates.com/ for more information.