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I want to prevent a work-related accident: How can OSHA help?

Workplace safety is often overlooked. However, many New Yorkers work in factories, on construction sites and in other unsafe areas. The truth is that a work-related accident can happen to any employee at any time. The main mission of the Occupational Safety and Health Act is to keep work sites accident free, and with help from employees and employers alike, this goal can be accomplished.

OSHA offers rights to employees regarding workplace safety and, at the same time, places obligations on the employers to provide safe working environments. Employees have the legal right to review previous violations at their place of work. These may be related to injuries or illnesses. Workers also have the right to receive information about OSHA standards and laws and how to apply them to their work duties. They may also request an inspection of their worksite if they have concerns. Their request is confidential, and they cannot be fired or retaliated against by their employer in any other way for making a complaint.

In accordance with OSHA regulations, employers have the obligation to provide employees with a safe working environment. Although it may be impossible to avoid all hazards, if hazards are found, employers must remove them as quickly as possible. If they cannot be removed, workers must be provided with safety equipment.

Workplace safety should be the main priority for employers. Hazards can lead to accidents, injuries and even death. This further results in monetary losses due to reduced productivity, workers' compensation benefits and lawsuits. Companies can also receive citations for violations and be forced to pay hefty fines for noncompliance.

Source: FindLaw, "Workplace Safety: OSHA and OSH Act Overview," Accessed on Sept. 11, 2014

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