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Workers’ Rights to Safety at a Construction Site

Construction sites are among the most dangerous workplaces in America. Workers are constantly under the threat of being hit by falling objects, colliding with vehicles transporting materials or climbing without proper safety equipment. While managers may be interested in getting a job done as quickly as possible, OSHA regulations help to make sure that a priority is placed on doing the job safely.

Employee Rights Under OSHA

Employees have several protections provided by OSHA regulations. First, they must be trained in a language that they can effectively speak and understand. They must also be given safety gear and proper training before using any type of machinery. In many cases, workers who are not certified to use a machine may not be asked or required to use it.

If a worker is hurt, that person has the right to report the injury as well as get any relevant medical or other records of the accident. The same is true if a person becomes ill because of poor conditions on a construction site. Workers must be given a work area that is free from chemicals or other debris that could impact their physical health.

Workers generally have the right to refuse to work if conditions are not safe enough to do so. However, several conditions must be met before a worker can refuse to perform a task. As a general rule, an employee must truly believe that a hazardous condition exists, that an employer has failed to remedy the issue and that there is no time for OSHA to complete an inspection.

Those who refuse to work because of legitimately dangerous conditions cannot be retaliated against. Retaliation may include demoting that employee, terminating that employee or otherwise taking action based on something other than work performance. It is important to note that employers may fire or discipline a worker who engages in protected activity if the reason for the disciplinary action is unrelated to retaliation.

Employer Obligations Under OSHA

Employers are required to provide employees with a safe place to work at all times. Employers must inspect work sites to ensure that there are no known hazards prior to any work being done on that site. If a hazard is discovered, work must be stopped to investigate it and devise ways to mitigate it. In some cases, it may be necessary to suspend a project until new plans can be created.

Posters or similar literature that warns employees of known hazards must be posted where it can be easily seen. The words used on a poster or similar item must be in a language that workers can understand. Pictures or symbols that are widely recognized may be used in conjunction with or in place of words.

If an employee is injured or becomes ill on a construction site, adequate records must be kept. This includes documenting the type of injury or illness an employee contracts, why it occurred and what was done about it. In the event that a worker dies, an OSHA office must be notified of the fatality no more than 24 hours after it occurs.

Workers must be given proper training on any tools or machines that they will be working with. Equipment must generally be inspected on a regular basis to ensure that it is in good working order. Employers may also be required to provide employees with clothing or other items such as hard hats that protect them against hazards including sparks or falling material.

OSHA Inspections

To make sure that workers' rights are being respected on construction sites, OSHA may inspect a site to make sure that it conforms with all regulations. In some cases, inspections may be done randomly to ensure compliance. However, inspections are more commonly conducted because of a complaint made by an employee or because a state or federal agency alerted OSHA to potentially dangerous conditions.

Before an inspection, OSHA will review a company's previous inspection history as well as gather any other background data that it may need. A representative will explain why the site was chosen to be inspected and what the inspection will include. During the walkaround portion of the inspection, there may be violations that are called out and that can be corrected immediately.

This helps an employer show that it cares about fixing safety issues while also helping to keep workers safe. Once an inspection is complete, the person who conducted the inspection may provide advice as to how employers may avoid further inspections. Proposed penalties may be handed down, but employers have the right to appeal any citations or penalties assessed.

It is possible that an employer may be subject to follow-up inspections as well as monitoring because of violations discovered at an initial inspection. Further inspection efforts may also take place if it is found that an employer interfered during an initial inspection.

Getting Help With a Construction Accident Injury

Those who are hurt on a construction site may have the ability to take legal action. In some cases, this may be against the employer or a contractor who violated OSHA regulations. It may also be possible to take action against the manufacturer of safety equipment that failed to keep a person safe. A construction accident attorney may work with an injured victim to ensure that they have the ability to pursue compensation or other appropriate forms of relief.

Speak to an Experienced Construction Accident Attorney Today

This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified construction accident lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local construction accident attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.

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