What is OSHA?
The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency of the United States Department of Labour. It was created by Congress under the Occupational Safety and Health Act on December 29, 1970. Its mission is to prevent work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths by issuing and enforcing rules (called standards) for workplace safety and health.
whether you are an employee under the jurisdiction of Federal OSHA or an employee working in an OSHA State Plan State, the basic employee rights are the same: Employees have the right to a workplace free from serious safety and health hazards.
Workers’ basic rights under OSHA include:
• Working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
• The ability to file a confidential complaint with OSHA to have their workplace inspected.
• Receiving information and training about hazards, methods to prevent harm, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace. The training must be done in a language and vocabulary workers can understand.
• Receiving copies of records of work-related injuries and illnesses that occur in their workplace.
• Receiving copies of the results from tests and monitoring done to find and measure hazards in their workplace.
• Receiving copies of their workplace medical records.
• Participating in an OSHA inspection and speak in private with the inspector.
• The Ability to file a complaint with OSHA if they have been retaliated against by their employer as the result of requesting an inspection or using any of their other rights under the OSH Act.
• The ability to file a complaint if punished or retaliated against for acting as a “whistle-blower” under the 21 additional federal laws for which OSHA has jurisdiction.
• Employers are required to prominently display the official OSHA Job Safety and Health – It’s the Law poster that describes rights and responsibilities under the OSH Act or the appropriate state approved version of the OSHA poster.
As a worker, it is your responsibility to:
• Read the workplace safety and health poster at the jobsite.
• Comply with all applicable OSHA and Maine safety standards.
• Follow all lawful employer safety and health rules and regulations, and wear or use required protective equipment while working.
• Report hazardous conditions to the employer
• Report any job-related injury or illness to the employer and seek treatment promptly.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and Maine law, employers must:
• Provide a workplace free from serious hazards
• Comply with OSHA standards
• Make sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment. Properly maintain this equipment.
• Use colour codes, posters, labels or signs to warn employees of potential hazards.
• Establish or update operating procedures and communicate them so that employees follow safety and health requirements.
• Provide medical examinations and training when required by OSHA standards. Post where employees can see it the OSHA Poster (private companies) or the State of Maine Occupational Safety and Health Poster (public sector employers) informing employees of their rights and responsibilities.
• Report hospitalizations and fatalities promptly:
o Private Sector: to the local OSHA office (780-3178) within 8 hours of any accident that is fatal or that results in the hospitalization of three or more employees.
o Maine Public Sector: to the Bureau of Labour Standards Workplace Safety and Health Division within 24 hours if an injured worker has an overnight hospital stay and within 8 hours in case of a death. Weekdays (except state holidays) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. call 624-6400. At other times, fax to 624-6449 or call on pager 750-1852.
• Keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses and post these records. (Note: Private sector employers with 10 or fewer employees and employers in certain low-hazard industries are exempt from this requirement.)
• Provide employees, former employees and their representatives access to the Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses.
• Provide access to employee medical records and exposure records to employees or their authorized representatives.
• Not discriminate against employees who exercise their safety and health rights.
• Post citations at or near the work area involved. Each citation must remain posted until the violation has been corrected, or for three working days, whichever is longer. Post abatement verification documents or tags.
• Correct cited violations by the deadline set in the citation and submit required abatement verification documentation