The Workers’ Rights blog series will cover these rights and more for workers across the state. The first part of the series will discuss workplace safety.
In 2013, according to the Department of Labor Standards (DLS), about 66,500 work-related injuries and illnesses were reported in the state’s private sector. DLS — a part of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD) — and the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) provide information on workplace safety and safety training requirements.
According to DLS and OSHA regulations, your employer needs to take steps to keep you safe at work, such as providing harnesses and lifelines to prevent falls and equipping you with protective clothing if needed.
There are dozens of things to keep in mind, and every workplace is different, but generally, your employer has to protect you from workplace hazards like:
- Toxic substances and waste
- Electrical or machine hazards
- Fall hazards
- Trench and digging hazards
- Workplace violence
- Fire and explosion hazards
- Confined spaces
- Ergonomic hazards
Dangerous Work Environments
In some professions, exposure to hazards may be part of the job — but your employer is still required to make this work as safe as possible. DLS has specialized safety programs that protect people who work in dangerous environments or with toxic elements.
- Mines —The Mine Safety and Health Program provides annual refresher training to miners. Topics include hazard recognition, fall protection, and electrical safety to help ensure that employers follow health and safety standards in Massachusetts mines.
- Asbestos — If you work with asbestos, your employer must follow asbestos regulations and worker protection requirements set out by the Asbestos Program. They must also provide you with safety training and certifications depending on your job duties. In addition, your employer should monitor your health and provide you with protective clothing and respiratory equipment.
- Lead — If you work on deleading projects, renovation in homes that contain lead, or in other environments with lead, your employer must provide you with lead-safe renovation training. The Lead Program provides additional information on lead safety and lead poisoning in the workplace.
Filing a Safety Complaint
If you think your workplace has violated health or safety regulations, LWD recommends that you talk to your employer first. If that doesn’t solve the problem, you can file a formal safety complaint.
- Private Sector Workers —File a confidential safety complaint with OSHA online, by fax or mail, or over the phone.
- Public Sector Workers —File a complaint with LWD by email or over the phone.
Stay tuned for the next part of the Workers’ Rights blog series to learn more about your workplace rights in Massachusetts.
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