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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Securing the Right to a Safe and Healthy Workplace | Center for Effective Government

Workers' Compensation is the remedy when workplaces aren't safe. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) promulgates safety rule in the workplace. Safer workplaces are needed and OSHA needs to be strengthened. This post is shared from .

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), passed in 1970, recognizes that workers play a critical role in ensuring their workplaces are healthy and safe. The OSH Act gives workers the right to report unsafe working conditions and the right to refuse to work under such conditions without reprisal.

The concept is for workers to function as the “eyes and ears” of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and help the agency prioritize its limited resources to focus inspections on the most dangerous work sites.

Workers will only report safety and health hazards in the workplace, however, if they can come forward without fear of reprisal. Thus, the law prohibits employers from taking any adverse action against employees who exercise the rights provided to them under the OSH Act.

Unfortunately, the weak guarantees written into the federal OSH Act leave workers with few protections against retaliation by an employer after reporting dangerous working conditions. Problems with current protections include the fact that the amount of time required to file a retaliation complaint is too short, investigations take too long, the burden of proof is too high, OSHA cannot preliminarily reinstate an employee once it determines that a complaint has merit, and employees cannot pursue a remedy independently, even if OSHA takes no action on their behalf.

Between 2005 and 2012, OSHA received 11,153 complaints of retaliation, 10,380 were reviewed, and 2,542...
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