Unsafe working conditions can lead to serious accidents and even deaths if the employer does not provide a secure environment for their employees.
Reporting an issue that may lead to injuries or death can prevent tragic events from happening Unfortunately, many workers are too afraid to report workplace safety issues, worrying that it might cost them their job.
Here is how to file a complaint about safety issues in the workplace, and why you should do it.
Why You Should Report Safety Issues in the Workplace
Hazardous situations at the workplace are more common than we would like, with safety violations leading to 2.8 million reported workplace injuries in 2019 (from SOII, a study of the private sector on non-fatal injuries). Many of these injuries are caused by unsafe working conditions in the workplace, and not by the fault of the employees themselves.
Reporting unsafe working conditions can reduce the number of injuries and fatalities in the workplace. You should also know that you have the right to refuse work until an inspection is carried if the workplace endangers your life or physical integrity.
A report can make a crucial change as the issue will likely be inspected by OSHA officials. They can then apply fines and citations to the employers violating safety protocols.
Reporting Unsafe Practices to OSHA
OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is a federal agency that regulates the working safety for both private and federal organizations. Although it was originally operating on a federal level, 25 states have instituted state-plans, which add further restrictions to the existing federal regulations.
You can report a safety issue at the workplace anonymously to protect yourself from possible retaliation from your employer. As an employee, you have the right to report unsafe practices, even if you are not sure if they do, indeed, break OSHA protocols.
If you decide to file a complaint, search for your local OSHA office and request an inspection, describing what you believe to be a safety hazard. You can then file a complaint directly to your employer. If they do not take any measures about the unsafe working conditions, OSHA can step in and reinforce them, or shut down the business until working is safe again.
What Happens If You Are Punished for Reporting?
Many employers have some kind of hazard reporting procedure in place, especially if they are in an industry prone to workplace injuries. Still, some employers may retaliate if they find out who reported them to the officials.
If you were punished or even laid off as a result of reporting safety concerns to OSHA, you should contact the agency as soon as you can, no later than 30 days after the decision was made by your employer.
Reporting safety issues at the workplace is your right. You have the right to work in a safe environment and be protected from injuries or death, and no job should be more important than your health. If you are unsure about the success of your report, if you were injured because of unsafe working conditions, or if you are facing workplace retaliation contact a Missouri work injury lawyer as soon as possible.
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