In honor of the 127th anniversary of Labor Day, we wanted to provide some info that, we hope, may prevent you from needing to hire some Chattanooga workers’ comp attorneys anytime in the near future. In fact, take this as an opportunity to celebrate the Occupational Safety and Health Act by making it work for you! But, first, here’s a little history about how the American worker has been honored over the centuries.
It’s ironic that Labor Day was originally established to give the skilled and committed American worker a celebration and a day off for relaxing with his family. Today, it’s become another opportunity for retail sales, movie screenings and myriad activities that, instead, require the American working man (and woman) to go to work. And, this isn’t the only homage to the American worker that has turned into a cornerstone for more working.
Only 41 years ago, the OSH Act was passed by the United States Congress. It established the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and was meant to ensure all American workers’ rights to have “safe and healthful working conditions… by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.”
Anyone who’s ever worked for somebody else, though, knows all about what OSHA says it expects from employers. Still, all across America, even right here in Chattanooga, business is booming for workers’ comp attorneys. In 2009, there were nearly 84,000 work injuries in Tennessee that were bad enough to require the filing of a workers’ compensation claim. Obviously, not all of those injury victims wanted the help of workers’ comp attorneys. Even if 90% of them didn’t, that still leaves 8,400 who felt the process was complicated enough to warrant legal help.
Going back to the OSH Act, what exactly does the American worker have a legal right to expect from his or her employer? All employees can legally expect six things:
- The right to ask OSHA to inspect his or her workplace.
- The right to request an employer’s compliance with OSHA regulations without retaliation and discrimination.
- The right to be trained about workplace hazards and how to prevent them.
- The right to see the results of hazard tests done for the workplace.
- The right to review his or her own workplace injury and illness records.
- The right to have copies of his or her own medical records.
Maybe the American workplace isn’t perfect. Everyone from the top down is fallible. But, that’s no excuse for a workplace to be slack on safety standards. If you feel your workplace is hazardous, and your employer has not responded to your request to correct the hazard, you have a right to put the problem straight into OSHA’s hands. Be proactive and protect your coworkers and yourself from a future workers’ comp claim. File the Tennessee Department of Labor Safety & Health Complaint Form.