Employers must ensure their workplace conditions are up to par. They have to protect their employees from preventable work accidents.
This duty falls under every employee's right to a safe workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) outlines various specific rights, but here is a summary of the most important protections employees have to safe working conditions.
Employees have a right to information
One of the most important rights to highlight is an employee's right-to-know. Employees have the right to know the dangers they face in their place of work. Employers should inform their employees up front about these dangers. However, if they do not, employees have the right to that information.
For example, many manufacturing plants in Maryland require employees to work with hazardous chemicals. In situations like these, the employer is responsible for:
- Warning employees about the risks
- Installing reminders and warnings in the workplace
- Training employees properly
- Providing extensive safety measures
Employees can also request that OSHA inspect the workplace if they suspect such negligence.
Employees have a right to protective gear
Employers should provide employees with protective wear if the job requires it. Many industrial jobs have loud machinery that could result in hearing loss. However, if the employer is aware of this risk, they should provide ear plugs as a safeguard.
Additionally, employers should provide safety equipment without charging the employees.
Right to receive injury records
Maryland employers also must keep a detailed record of any work injuries that occur. And all employees have the right to review these injury reports. Injured workers can also obtain their record of injury from their employer for a workers' compensation claim.
How do these rights apply to workers' compensation rights?
OSHA regulations generally apply before an employee suffers an injury from a workplace accident. The primary purpose of their health and safety standards is to prevent accidents in the first place.
The federal law that created OSHA prevents the agency from imposing on state workers' compensation laws. Employers usually must report workplace injuries to OSHA, but OSHA does not directly influence workers' compensation rights.
However, these rights can still have a significant impact on an employee's workers' compensation claim. Many employers deny that injuries occurred at work to get out of covering compensation. These denials are often in question if the employer does not meet OSHA standards.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Access to Medical and Exposure Records," 2001.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Hazard Communication," 2019.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Personal Protective Equipment," 2004.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Workers' Rights," 2017.