OSHA: It's a dirty word to some and heaven-sent to others. Short for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA is the agency that regulates employers to ensure that workplaces are safe for employees.
OSHA regulations reach every part of the workplace and even encompass some consumer products. You're sure to have seen "OSHA-approved" labels on any number of products at your local hardware store.
But what do you do if you think these regulations are being violated and your workplace is unsafe? This is where your buddy OSHA comes into play.
First, you should know what OSHA's regulations require. In general, employees have the right to a safe workplace through training, access to employer information, and the right to have hazardous conditions corrected.
Training should cover relevant topics like the proper handling of materials, specific worksite hazards, working in confined spaces, and even bloodborne pathogen hazards. Basically, you should be trained to do your job and to use any of the tools needed to complete that job.
Employers must also allow you access to safety and health records. You should have access to your personal exposure and health records, records of injuries and illnesses at the workplace, information about the potential hazards of any materials used, and information about OSHA rules and regulations.
Once you have your training and access to information, you will be able to better identify when there is a health hazard because you'll know, for example, what types of spills are cause for alarm and which are not. When hazards are identified, your employer then has a duty to correct them.
If you find that your company is not following these guidelines, you can report them to OSHA. Since this article does not cover every aspect of OSHA regulations, head over to the FindLaw Answers Employment Law forum to ask about specific issues; you can usually get a reply within 24 hours. You can also contact a Philadelphia employment attorney to help determine what your rights are.
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