Did you know that, on average, 14 workers die every day due to job-related injuries?
Workplace safety is a big deal. It is the right of every employee to work in an environment that is safe and healthy. But what if yours isn’t?
If you notice that you or your colleagues have been exposed to unsafe working conditions, here are the steps you can take.
What Constitutes Unsafe Working Conditions?
Before you can report unsafe working conditions, you first need to know how to spot them.
Unsafe conditions are the easiest to spot in places where physical labor is being done. These are also the types of environments that most often violate workplace safety standards.
Common violations include negligence like failing to provide fall protection, unsafe use of ladders, unsafe use of machinery, and faulty use of electrical wiring. It can also entail failure to properly train employees on injury prevention, or failure to provide safety equipment.
But unsafe work conditions can also apply in office environments. Violations might include issues like mold exposure, or even failure to provide heat in winter and air conditioning in the summer.
What Should You Do if You Spot Them?
The first thing to do if you notice unsafe work conditions is to document them. Take pictures, if possible. You can also document statements from other workers who witnessed the unsafe conditions.
Next, notify a supervisor. If there was a supervisor present at the incident who allowed the unsafe conditions to occur, notify their supervisor.
It’s always a good idea to initiate these conversations in writing. That way, you have a record of what the employer’s response (or lack thereof) was. You will also have a written timestamp.
It can also be helpful to involve your union in this conversation, if applicable. A formal complaint coming from the head of the union holds more weight than a complaint coming from an individual employee.
What if My Employer Doesn’t Act?
If your employer does not respond to the unsafe conditions, it may be time to take more drastic action.
It’s a good idea to contact an attorney, like the ones at McCutchen & Sexton, The Law Firm. Not only can they give you advice on how to proceed, but they can also defend you if your employer attempts to retaliate against your for whistleblowing.
In some cases, it may be appropriate to escalate the complaint up to the relevant state regulating agency. In other cases, the complaint might need to go directly to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).
Regardless of what action government agencies take against your employer, you may have additional avenues to pursue if you sustained injuries due to unsafe conditions. You may be eligible to sue for coverage of medical bills, as well as for pain and suffering.
Remember, Safety First
With these steps in mind, you will be prepared to report any unsafe working conditions in your place of employment.
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