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What are your rights as an employee in the workplace?

As an employee, you can protect yourself from unsafe working conditions. Your employer is obligated to giving you a safe workplace. If your workplace is home to an unsafe environment, then you can report the workplace to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for review. In some cases, you can also refuse to go to work when the hazards are particularly dangerous to your health.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act is a federal statute that makes it clear that employers have to keep your workplace free of dangerous health and safety issues that could lead to death, injuries, or illnesses. OSHA protects workers like yourself from one-time injuries, recognized hazards, and illnesses caused by unsafe conditions.

Your workplace should have an OSHA safety notice. This notice gives you information on how to reach out to OSHA in the case that you need to discuss your work environment. If necessary, OSHA can provide safety training and keeps a record of all injuries, deaths, and hazards in workplaces like yours.

If your workplace is putting you in immediate danger, it's important that you report the hazard to OSHA immediately. You can also refuse to work in some cases, like if you don't have a reasonable alternative or if your employer won't take the time to fix the problem in your workplace.

If the conditions aren't too dangerous but still pose a threat, you should inform your employer in writing. If it's not repaired or remedied, OSHA can still step in to address the concerns you have.

Source: FindLaw, "Protecting Yourself from Unsafe Working Conditions," accessed March 22, 2016

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