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Construction Workplace Safety: What Are Your Rights?

Does a worker have the right to ask for a safety inspection?

The answer is yes. Look, we understand that this is not a comfortable conversation and one not many workers are willing to have. Why? All workers balance their next paycheck, paying their rent or mortgage and putting food on the table against the worksite dangers they face every day. It is never easy to confront a boss or contractor over workplace safety or report a violation. Still, many hardworking women and men don't know that they have a right to an inspection by OSHA if there is a safety concern at the worksite.

How to file an OSHA complaint

Workers, or their representatives, may file a complaint and ask OSHA to inspect the workplace if they believe there is a workplace safety hazard or that the employer is not following OSHA standards. A worker can tell OSHA not to let the employer know who filed the complaint. It is a violation of the law for an employer to fire, demote, transfer or discriminate in any way against a worker for filing a complaint or using other OSHA rights.

You can file a complaint online; download the form and mail or fax it to the nearest OSHA office; or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Most complaints sent in online may be resolved informally over the phone with your employer. Written complaints that are signed by a worker or representative and submitted to the closest OSHA office are more likely to result in an on-site OSHA inspection.

When the OSHA inspector arrives, workers and their representatives have the right to:

  • Go along on the inspection
  • Talk privately with the OSHA inspector
  • Take part in meetings with the inspector and the employer before and after the inspection is conducted
  • Where there is no union or employee representative, the OSHA inspector must talk confidentially with a reasonable number of workers during the course of the investigation

When an inspector finds violations of OSHA standards or serious hazards, OSHA may issue citations and fines. A citation includes methods an employer may use to fix a problem and the date by when the corrective actions must be completed.

Your rights after an inspection

Workers only have the right to challenge the deadline for when a problem must be resolved. Employers, on the other hand, have the right to contest whether there is a violation or any other part of the citation. Workers or their representatives must notify OSHA that they want to be involved in the appeals process if the employer challenges a citation.

If you send in a complaint requesting an OSHA inspection, you have the right to find out the results of the OSHA inspection and request a review if OSHA decides not to issue citations.

Injuries at construction sites occur far too frequently and can have a devastating impact on workers and their families. Lost wages and medical bills mount while the injured worker is helpless because of an injury. If you or a loved one has been injured at a construction site, you need an experienced construction accident lawyer with a track record of success. You need a lawyer who will fight for your family. Block O'Toole & Murphy has a long and proud history of helping injured construction workers and their families. Our lawyers fight and fight hard. To learn more about the serious injury lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy, review the firm website at www.blockotoole.com.

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