Maintaining a safe and healthy workplace for all employees is an important goal for many employers. However, sometimes employers are negligent in meeting these requirements. This negligence can result in unsafe working conditions including but not limited to:
Chemical hazards, repetitive stress disease, and ergonomic design flaws that are among the top causes of workplace injuries on the job.
In order to protect its workforce, many companies have put measures in place that help protect workers from these occupational hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a United States government agency tasked with overseeing workplace safety issues and regulations. OSHA was developed in 1971, following an increase in industrial accidents as well as increased stress on the workforce due to decreased wages and decreased hours.
With this increased focus on workplace safety, it has become increasingly important for employees to be aware of their rights and how they can help ensure safe working conditions in their environment. One of the most effective ways to help ensure workplace safety is to report any hazards or unsafe conditions that are observed. As a member of the work environment, it is important that employees feel comfortable coming forward with such concerns in order for corrective action to be taken by the employer.
Reporting Unsafe Working Conditions
A report is in the form of any verbal or written communication that is sent to an employer about an unsafe condition at work. Reports may come from employees, their family members, or other individuals who have information about the specific issue at hand. OSHA states that it is important for the reporting party to want to stay with his/her current employer in order for a complaint to be considered viable.
If the report to OSHA is not made by an employee, it may still be valid. OSHA encourages individuals to report unsafe conditions in the workplace, regardless of whether or not the employer has been informed. If another individual makes a report on behalf of an employee, it should be considered valid if they have been heard and understood. It is the responsibility of the employer to document any such reports.
Reporting Unsafe Working Conditions Violations and Penalties
OSHA regulations require employers to keep all employee reports confidential, unless they are made by a family member or someone else who was not directly involved in the workplace incident. If an employee makes a report on a coworker’s behalf, their name should be kept anonymous. However, OSHA has the right to access any records that pertain to worker safety. Employers are also required to report injuries on the job, as well as injuries that may not be serious. OSHA has the right to access those records as well.
OSHA has the right and responsibility to investigate all reports and allegations of unsafe working conditions in order to protect workers from injuries. If a report is found to be valid, OSHA can fine employers up to $7,000 per violation if they are unable to make changes after an OSHA inspection or within a reasonable amount of time.