Employers are required by federal and Pennsylvania state law to provide their workers with a safe workplace. Workers are within their rights to report unsafe working conditions to their employer and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or refuse to work if the situation calls for such drastic measures.
The goal of OSHA is to prevent employees from unsafe workplaces that can lead to injury or even death. The federal safety organization aims to protect workers from any of the following:
– Known hazards that can cause serious injury or death.
– One-time injuries.
– Unsafe health conditions in a workplace that can lead to an illness.
Employers are required to post the OSHA job safety notice in plain sight within the workplace, offer safety training when necessary, provide a place to work that is free of health and safety hazards that can lead to sickness or injury and keep records of all deaths, injuries and exposures to hazardous materials.
A worker has the right to report any unsafe working condition or hazard to OSHA. The worker also has the right to refuse to perform his or her duties if the following occurs:
– Reasonable belief exists that a condition in the workplace can lead to substantial injury or death.
– The employer refuses to fix the unsafe condition.
– The immediacy of the potential danger does not leave enough time for the employee to contact OSHA.
– The employee does not have a safe alternative to perform the task at hand.
The worker can also refuse to return to the job until the employer performs an investigation that determines there was no safety issue or, if one was present, fixes the safety issue in question.
There are times when hazardous conditions exist, but they do not pose imminent danger. When this happens, the worker should notify the employer in writing. If the employer does not rectify the situation, the employee can then alert OSHA.
To learn more about workers’ compensation laws in Pennsylvania, visit our web pages on the subject.