OSHA Regulations: Employee Rights and Responsibilities
Although the act also holds employees responsible for obeying federal health and safety standards, the act does not set penalties for employees who disregard OSHA standards, regulations, and guidelines. Employers ultimately bear the responsibility of ensuring employee compliance - and the fines for noncompliance.
Specific employee rights include the following:
- Employees who believe unsafe conditions exist may request an OSHA inspection by filing a complaint at the nearest OSHA office. OSHA will keep the employee’s identity confidential. Employees can also file formal complaints on the Internet by using the “Workers’ Page” available on OSHA’s homepage at www.osha.gov. Complainants must enter their name, telephone number, their employer’s name, and a description of the hazard and its location. The form is then automatically transmitted for follow-up to the appropriate OSHA office.
- Employees or their representative can accompany OSHA inspectors on the inspection of the workplace.
- Employees may participate in OSHA conferences, OSHRC and court proceedings, or other activities. Employees may also respond to employer applications for variances, modifications of abatement, and contest of citations.
- Employers cannot discharge or discriminate against employees for exercising their rights under the act, including the right to file a complaint charging unsafe or unhealthy conditions in the workplace.
- Labor Unions have the right to comment on proposed OSHA standards, challenging the validity of standards, and sue on behalf of employees in cases of unresolved imminent danger situations.