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OSHA protects workers who report safety violations

Many workers may be uncertain of what to do when they see a dangerous workplace condition. Uncertainty of whom to report it to or the fear of retaliation may hold some employees back from pursuing action to make a change. Fortunately, statutes exist to protect employees who find themselves in this position.

The United States Department of Labor outlines the protection offered to workers who report workplace violations of the standards set by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration. OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program offers assistance to employees who report violations of various workplace safety and environmental laws. The acts covered under the program offer workers protection when they report a work-related injury or illness or report a violation of safety standards.

When an employee reports a concern regarding workplace safety, employers are prohibited from discriminating against the worker. This discrimination includes denying an employer the ability to take adverse action against the employee, such as by firing or laying off, demoting or denying overtime. Additionally, employers cannot deny a worker benefits or use intimidation or threatening behavior toward a worker.

Any worker who has experienced discrimination after taking actions such as filing OSHA complaints or raising a health concern must file a complaint with OSHA within 30 days of the adverse action. OSHA will then begin an investigation to make certain the employee is afforded all of the rights that the worker is entitled to receive.

Reduction of workplace accidents is a key goal of OSHA. Any employer violating OSHA regulations may face penalties, including fines and demands for corrective action regarding the safety violation at hand.

Source: www.whistleblowers.gov, "The Whistleblower Protection Programs," Accessed Dec. 29, 2014

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