Safety in the workplace is not limited to the oversight of the employer but also an extension of the personal welfare of each real worker in New York. By law employers are obligated to follow OSHA’s safety protection rules and standards. Workers are entitled to working conditions that do not create a risk of serious injury. If workers believe that their employer is not providing the proper safety equipment they may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace for safety protection and health standards. However, if there is not enough time for OSHA to inspect the workplace, and it is clear that the working condition presents a risk of serious injury, and the employee has informed the employer of the hazardous working condition, then the employee has the legal right to refuse to work in the dangerous condition.
Construction is one of the largest industries in the United States, especially in New York, and it remains one of the most dangerous jobs. Falls are the leading cause of worker fatalities. The failure of the employer to provide safety harnesses, hard hats, fall arrest systems, netting, scaffolds or other safety devices often results in serious injury and even death.
Other Industries & Workplace Safety
Transportation workers, plumbers, electricians, welders and other craftsmen experience the same kind of risk of serious injury on the job. “Electrocutions rank fourth in causes of industrial fatalities (behind traffic, violence and construction). The National Safety council estimates 600 people die every year of electrical causes.” http://ehs.okstate.edu/MODULES/electric/index.htm Hence, it is important to plan for safety on the job by minimizing your exposure to toxins, using equipment according to the manufacturer’s specifications, appropriately using the approved and recommended safety equipment and procedures, and being aware of any and all dangerous conditions that may occur on the job.
The Worker’s Role in Workplace Safety
Unfortunately, workplace injuries can happen to anyone at any time. Regardless of the industry, unexpected injuries can cause devastation on workers’ lives and livelihoods. While it is important for the employer to provide all the safety equipment that is necessary in the workplace, it is also the employee’s duty to make sure that the equipment is in fact used and is used correctly. It is imperative that the employee take responsibility for their own safety by asking for the equipment that would give protection and help prevent them from being injured.
When An Employer Fails
Often employers take short cuts or fail to provide the appropriate safety devices, training and equipment necessary to ensure their employees safety. When an employer fails to provide the proper safety protection they are possibly responsible if their employee is injured.
What is OSHA?
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) was passed to prevent workers from being seriously injured or even killed at work. According to OSHA, a person has the right to work in a safe environment, thus the law requires employers to provide their employees with danger free working conditions. OSHA enforces and insists upon a protective workplace and health standards. Such safety protection requirements include making sure that workers enter confined spaces safely, workers are given a mask to prevent breathing in harmful substances such as asbestos, and training is given for using dangerous machinery. OSHA covers most employees in the country, either directly through Federal OSHA or through a state program that is approved by OSHA.
For more information about Safety in the Workplace for workers in New York and OSHA, visit the Resource page. http://www.realworkersofnewyork.com/resources/