What are worker rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act?

Workers are entitled to working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm. To help assure a safe and healthful workplace, OSHA also provides workers with the right to:

  • Receive information and training about hazards, methods to prevent harm, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace. The training must be in a language that workers can understand;
  • Receive copies of the results from tests and monitoring done to find and measure hazards in their workplace;
  • Review copies of records of work-related injuries and illnesses that occur in their workplace;
  • -Receive copies of their workplace medical records;
  • -File a confidential complaint with OSHA to have their workplace inspected;
  • -Participate in an OSHA inspection and speak in private with the inspector;
  • -File a complaint with OSHA if they have been retaliated or discriminated against by their employer as the result of requesting an inspection or using any of their other rights under the OSH Act; and
  • -File a complaint if punished or discriminated against for acting as a “whistleblower” under the 21 additional federal laws for which OSHA has jurisdiction.

Do I need to put an OSHA poster in my workplace?

All covered employers are required to prominently display the official OSHA “Job Safety and Health – It’s the Law” poster that describes rights and responsibilities under the OSH Act.

Why does OSHA conduct inspections?

OSHA conducts workplace inspections in order to determine if employers are complying with standards issued by the agency for safe and healthful workplaces. Inspections are conducted by OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officers who are trained in the OSHA standards and in the recognition of safety and health hazards. If your state has its own occupational safety and health programs, it may conduct inspections using qualified state compliance safety and health officers.

Will we receive notice if OSHA is coming?

Actually, inspections are typically conducted without advance notice. Alerting an employer without proper authorization in advance of an OSHA inspection can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and/or a six-month jail term. This is true for both OSHA compliance officers and state inspectors. There are special circumstances under which OSHA may give notice to the employer, but the notice would still be less than 24 hours.

Can we refuse to let the compliance officer in?

You have the right to refuse to let the compliance officer inspect your premises. However, the inspector will report such refusals to the OSHA Area Director who may initiate the process to obtain a search warrant for your facility.

What OSHA-related records should I keep?

The following is just a sample of dated and signed documentation that you should keep updated and have readily available:

  • -Worksite injury and illness records
  • -Posting of the OSHA poster
  • -Details of the training provided (videos used, test scores and questions, handouts, sign-in sheets, new hire training details)
  • -Equipment maintenance and repair records (e.g. inspections, preventative maintenance, safety related repairs)
  • -Departmental safety meetings (agenda, minutes and follow-up)
  • -Disciplinary action taken for safety infractions
  • -Current and prior safety policies
  • -Employee safety suggestions and their follow up
  • -Employee biological testing (e.g. blood lead, audiograms)
  • -Accident investigation reports (and follow up action taken)
  • -Risk assessments

Is it acceptable for a document to be “hand written”?

While hand written records are acceptable, they must be legible and complete. It is easier to organize, copy and store computer documents and an OSHA inspector will accept either. IMPORTANT: keep at least one up-to-date copy of all records at a remote location.

What are the penalties for violating an OSHA standard?

The maximum penalty OSHA can assess, regardless of the circumstances, is $7,000 for each serious violation and $70,000 for a repeated or willful violation.

What are the OSHA blood-borne pathogens standard requirements for post-exposure evaluation and follow-up from needle sticks and other exposure incidents?

After a work-related needle stick or other exposure incident, the employer must make available a post-exposure evaluation and follow-up at no cost to the worker. This includes documenting the route(s) of exposure and the circumstances under which the exposure occurred; identifying and testing the source individual, if known, unless the employer can establish that identification is not feasible or is prohibited by state or local law. The source individual’s blood must be tested as soon as feasible, after consent is obtained, in order to determine HIV, HBV and HCV infectivity. The information on the source individual’s HIV, HBV and HCV testing must be provided to the evaluating healthcare professional and to the exposed employee.

Are employees allowed to decline their hepatitis B vaccine?

A Under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Bloodborne Pathogens Standard 1910.1030, employers must explain the risks of exposure, state the benefits of the hepatitis B vaccine, and offer the vaccine, at no charge, to all employees at risk of exposure to blood or potentially infectious materials. Any employee, in any state, may choose to decline the vaccine.

Employees must understand the risks of disease transmission and the risks and benefits of receiving the vaccination before the employer offers the vaccine. Once they understand these risks and that the vaccine is available to them at the employer’s expense, they reserve the right to decline. If they later change their mind, the employer is still obligated to provide the vaccine at no cost to any employee in a job category that involves exposure.

Do I need an OSHA Safety Officer in my workplace?

Yes. As part of maintaining OSHA compliance it is necessary to appoint one staff member for this position. Safety Officer duties will include creating a plan for employee safety, ensuring that there is OSHA compliant training for the workplace, assessing compliance on a regular basis and creating checklists and programs for risk management and quality.

For further details, call California Medical Compliance at:
310-890-5119  or  702-427-9197

Email us at info@calmedcompliance.com