Employers have a responsibility to provide safe working conditions for all of their staff. Unfortunately, when there is a problem, some employees may be afraid to report hazards. They may fear retribution or be uncertain if the situation is serious enough to warrant action.
The Types of Dangers Industrial Workers Face
Industrial jobs are fairly well regulated, but some working conditions are still dangerous. Workers may come into contact with machinery or toxic substances. Routine exposure to these risks lead to long term consequence for your health. You may suffer from:
- Immediate harm from injuries as a result of unsafe equipment
- Damage to hearing or vision from exposure to machinery
- Injuries to your spinal column that take years to develop
- Exposure to carcinogens that lead to cancer
- Illnesses as a result of contact with toxins
Employees are often unaware of the long term dangers. Some go many years working in an industry before discovering the harm that has been done.
The Pressure to Not Report a Hazard
Employers are required to provide a safe and healthy working environment. OSHA regulations prohibit deliberate exposure to uncontrolled risks, but not all companies follow these regulations reliably. Some are unaware of all of the risks and others take short cuts to lower operating costs. Some companies go as far as to place unfair pressure on employees who might report hazardous working conditions to regulators.
Fortunately, you have rights, and you may report unsafe conditions without fear of retaliation.
Common Types of Retaliation
The OSH Act protects workers against unfair personnel actions. Some instances include:
- Being suspended after reporting a hazard
- Termination or refusal to rehire after a layoff
- Reduced hours or prohibition on overtime
- Reduction in pay
- Demotion or being denied a reasonable promotion
- Reassignment to an undesirable position
You may also experience passive aggressive behavior from managers or be subjected to disparaging remarks. When the nature of the harassment is subjective, you will need to consult with a skilled legal firm, like Clay Dugas and Associates, to determine if you have been wronged.
Protection for Whistleblowers
If you have experienced retaliation, you must report the incident to OSHA, but you have a limited amount of time to do so. Depending on the severity, you only have between 30 and 180 days. The agency will investigate and consider a number of factors including:
- Did you attempt to resolve the problem with your employer first?
- Was the employer aware of the hazardous condition?
- Did you participate directly in the reported activity?
- Were there any unfavorable personnel actions taken against you?
OSHA will issue a report and insist that your employer correct both the hazard and any harm caused by retaliation. This can include reinstatement of your previous position or payment for lost wages. Your employer has the right to dispute the findings of the agency.
You may feel additional pressure to settle the matter or abandon your claim. An experienced legal firm like Clay Dugas and Associates can help you get the justice and compensation you deserve while also protecting your rights and safety.