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What is OSHA and how does it help protect workers?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) exists to protect workers by reducing workplace hazards and implementing health and safety programs. OSHA regulations apply in a variety of workplaces, including construction sites, so it is important to understand worker rights and protections on job sites and in their workplaces. You may have heard of OSHA but wondered what your protections were.

Worker rights under OSHA include the right to review copies of standards, rules, regulations and requirements employers should make available in the workplace; be able to access relevant employee exposure and medical records; review records of work-related injuries and illnesses; request that OSHA inspect their workplace if the worker believes there are hazardous conditions present or violations of safety standards and have an authorized employee representative present during the inspection; receive copies of tests performed to determine any hazards in the workplace; have names withheld from their employer if they file a written complain; and be free of any discrimination or retaliation for filing a complaint.

In addition, employers have important obligations under OSHA. These responsibilities include providing a workplace that is free of recognized hazards; providing safe tools and equipment for workers to use; informing workers of OSHA safety and health standards that apply to their workplace; displaying in a prominent location rights and responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act; establishing a written and comprehensive hazard communication program; providing workers with safety training in a language they can understand; and informing employees of the existence, location and availability of medical exposure records when workers first begin and at least once annually following that, as well as providing such records upon request.

OSHA is available to help ensure workers enjoy a safe and health workplace which employers have an obligation to provide. When workers have suffered injury or harm in an unsafe workplace, additional protections, such as workers' compensation benefits, they should be familiar with may also be available to help them.

Source: Injury.findlaw.com, "OSHA and Construction Workers' Right to a Safe Workplace," Accessed Feb. 9, 2017

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