OSHA and Construction Workers’ Rights to a Safe Workplace
Safety standards and regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cover workers in construction projects. Employees who work at construction sites should be informed of their rights under this Act.
Employee Rights Under OSHA
The OSHA is created under the Department of Labor through the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970. The purpose of this is to ensure the reduction of workplace hazards and the implementation of safety and health programs. Among the rights of employees under OSHA include:
- The right to be free of any discriminatory or retaliatory action taken by their employer as a result of any OSHA complaint.
- The right to have access to relevant employee exposure and medical records.
- The right to review copies of appropriate standards, rules, regulations, and requirements that the employer should have available at the workplace
- The right to have their names withheld from their employer, upon request to OSHA, if they sign and file a written complaint.
- The right to request the OSHA area director to conduct an inspection if they believe hazardous conditions or violations of standards exist in the workplace, and have an authorized employee representative accompany the OSHA compliance officer during the inspection tour.
Employer Obligations Under OSHA
Under OSHA, employers’ duties include:
- Informing employees of OSHA safety and health standards that apply to their workplace.
- Providing work and a workplace free from recognized hazards.
- Informing employees of the existence, location, and availability of their medical and exposure records when employees first begin employment and at least annually thereafter, and to provide these records upon request.
- Displaying in a prominent place the official OSHA poster that describes rights and responsibilities under the OSH Act.
- Establishing a written, comprehensive hazard communication program that includes provisions for such things as container labeling, material safety data sheets, and an employee training program.
An employee should call the attention of OSHA if the employer does not follow regulations or correct safety hazards in the workplace. They may call or write a complaint to the OSHA office in their area. Once OSHA determines that there is reason to believe that there is a violation or hazard, they will conduct an investigation through inspection. During inspection, a workers’ representative chosen by the union may accompany the OSHA officer. The employer is not allowed to choose the employee who will accompany the inspector. The inspector may either inspect the whole workplace or just a particular area.
Upon the conclusion of the inspection, the OSHA inspector will discuss in a meeting with the employer and employee representatives the prevention and reduction of hazards that the inspector may have found.