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Workplace safety and the OSH Act (part 2)

As we began discussing last week, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration offers workers in Utica and throughout the country a number of rights. The agency's goal is to reduce the danger of a worker losing his or her life, or suffering injury, in a work-related accident. However, it's important to understand some key differences in how the agency regards different categories of workers.

Private sector employees are covered by OSHA, although coverage could come through one of two means. One is through a state-run health and safety program that OSHA itself has approved. The other is directly through the federal agency itself. Here in New York, workers fall into the latter category of coverage, with the exception of employees of state and local government agencies. For them, New York has a specific OSHA-approved program that provides coverage at least as effective as federal OSHA.

What about federal employees? The law required that federal agencies also cover their workers with health and safety programs on par with the requirements for the private sector, with one exception: the U.S. Postal Service, whose employees are covered under OSHA. Even though the agency doesn't take action against federal agencies the same way it does against other employers, it still monitors their compliance and addresses complaints it receives.

Self-employed individuals in Utica are not covered under the OSH Act. There are some other categories as well that are not covered, including family members of some farmers and workers who fall under the jurisdiction of other federal agencies (those in the aviation or mining industries, for example).

The preceding discussion is not intended as specific legal advice, but as general information only. Readers who do have concerns about workplace safety issues should consider following up with a complaint to the agency, and in many cases, a consultation with a legal professional can prove informative and beneficial.

Source: OSHA, "We Can Help," accessed on June 19, 2015

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