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Workplace safety and the OSH Act (part 1)

All too often, Utica workers who suffer injuries in on-the-job accidents are made to feel as if their injuries are their own problem. Your employer, your insurance, perhaps even your coworkers may try to act as if your work-related accident was your own fault, or that hazardous conditions on the job are just a fact of life with which everyone has to deal.

In fact, a federal law passed 45 years ago has been holding employers accountable for maintaining acceptable standards of workplace safety ever since. The law is called the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and it created the agency known as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to enforce these standards, among other functions. Let's take a look at some of the basic elements of the OSH Act, with the understanding that this is general information only and not specific legal advice.

The fundamental principle underlying the OSH Act is that a safe workplace -- free of known dangers -- is a right of workers. Workers have numerous rights they can exercise to this end, including: the right to request that OSHA conduct a workplace investigation; the right to obtain copies of the results when tests are performed in the workplace to detect hazards; the right to receive training on safety and the applicable OSHA standards in a certain environment; and the right to exercise rights under the OSH act without fear of retaliation.

We'll look in more detail at OSH Act provisions in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we encourage readers with specific legal questions to educate themselves about workplace safety and federal safety regulations by speaking with a legal professional.

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

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