Staying Safe at Work: Understanding Your Workplace Rights

Did you know that there were more than 2.7 million workplace injuries in 2020 alone? Though many of those injuries were minor, getting hurt on the job can force you to miss shifts and hurt your earning potential long after the injury happens.

Though you’re responsible for being careful on the job, your employer is just as responsible for keeping you and your coworkers safe. Unfortunately, employers aren’t always as careful as they should be. That’s why every employee has certain workplace rights to help protect them.

By knowing your rights, you’ll be better equipped hold your employer accountable for safety violations. Here are a few of the most important rights you have as an employee.

You Have the Right to Use Safety Equipment

It’s your employer’s responsibility to provide you with the tools and equipment you need to do your job safely. If they haven’t provided you with those tools, don’t hesitate to ask for them.

Often, employers aren’t aware of the things their employees need to work safely. Once you tell them what equipment would make your job safer, they’ll typically try to invest in those tools. They may also be willing to reimburse you for any equipment you buy with your own money for use on the job.

If your employer isn’t willing to provide you with those tools, report them to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).

You Can and Should Report Violations

When you’re working, you’re expected to take all reasonable safety precautions to avoid injuring yourself or others around you. Your employer is required to keep the facility and the equipment you use in good and safe working order.

If your employer isn’t addressing workplace hazards or employees keep getting injured on the job, you can and should report them.

Before you report them for a violation, you’ll want to understand the difference between OSHA recordable vs reportable injuries. Recordable injuries are standard injuries that happen while you’re performing your normal work-related tasks. Reportable injuries are those that result from your employer’s negligence and oversight.

Recordable injuries get reported to your employer and usually aren’t reported to OSHA. Reportable injuries should always be reported to OSHA as soon as possible.

Get Help if You’re Injured

If you’re injured on the job, you have the right to seek immediate medical treatment. Don’t let your employer pressure you into waiting until the end of your shift to see a doctor.

Notify your manager of your injury and tell them you’d like to go to a doctor. Your employer may have a preferred urgent care facility that they can send you to. If they don’t or you’re not happy with the diagnosis you receive at your employer’s preferred provider, you’re free to schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor.

Know Your Workplace Rights

Staying safe at work means more than being cautious. It means knowing your workplace rights and using them as needed to protect yourself and others.

As long as you familiarize yourself with these three rights and exercise them if you or a coworker gets hurt on the job, you’ll be in good shape.

Knowing your rights is just one way to improve workplace safety. Check out our latest posts for more tips to help you stay safe on the job.

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