Do You Know Your Rights to a Safe Workplace?
October 1, 2021
State and federal laws guarantee employees the right to a safe workplace. Employers have a legal responsibility to protect workers from hazards that pose health and safety risks. Moreover, it is illegal for employers to retaliate against workers who identify hazards and speak up. However, many workers are unaware of their rights.
Any worker who suffers an injury on the job should contact a lawyer to make sure their rights are protected. In addition to helping an injured employee obtain Workers’ Compensation, a lawyer can determine if other third parties may be held accountable to pay for damages.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was enacted to ensure safe and healthful working conditions. Workers’ rights include the following:
- Receive information and training about hazards and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards that apply to their workplace.
- Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses that occur in their workplace.
- File a confidential complaint with the OSHA to have their workplace inspected.
- Get copies of their workplace medical records.
- Speak in private with an OSHA inspector.
- File a complaint if their employer retaliates against them for exercising these rights.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act also outlines a number of employer responsibilities, including the following:
- Prominently display the official OSHA poster that lists workers’ rights.
- Provide workplace safety training in a language that the workers understand.
- Inform workers about hazards.
- Keep accurate records of work-related injuries.
- Perform OSHA-mandated tests, such as air sampling.
- Provide OSHA-mandated hearing exams and/or medical tests.
- Notify the OSHA within eight hours of a workplace fatality or 24 hours of a work-related hospitalization.
Workers who are injured on the job have certain rights regarding compensation. These rights vary from state to state.
What Rights are Covered by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act?
Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, employers are typically liable to pay for damages sustained by employees during the course of their employment. The rights and duties covered by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act include but are not limited to the following:
- Employees injured on the job have the right to seek emergency medical treatment from any provider. Employers are responsible for paying for this treatment.
- Injured employees have a duty to seek non-emergency treatment from a designated provider for a 90-day period following the incident.
- Employees have the right to have the employer pay all reasonable medical supplies and treatment related to the injury as long as treatment is obtained from a designated provider during the first 90 days after the work incident.
- During the 90-day period, employees have the right to switch from one health care provider on the list to another on the list.
- Employees also have the right to seek treatment from a referral provider if the employee is referred by a designated provider.
- While employees have the right to seek treatment from a non-designated provider during the 90-day period, they are responsible for paying for those services.
- Employees also have the right to seek treatment from any health care provider after the 90-day period has ended, and that treatment shall be paid for by the employer as long as the employee notifies the employer of this treatment within five days of the first visit.
- Employees also have the right to seek a second opinion from any health care provider regarding invasive surgery.
- Employers have the option of establishing a list of designated health care providers. If they choose to do so, they must post this list prominently in the workplace to ensure that employees understand whom they are allowed to seek treatment from if they are injured.
What Happens if Workers Do Not Know Their Rights?
Employees can suffer harm if they do not know their rights and duties in the workplace in several ways, including the following:
- Their risk of serious injury will likely increase if their employer ignores OSHA standards.
- They may fail to speak up about hazards due to fear of retaliation.
- They may not obtain full recovery of damages if they experience a work-related injury or illness.
It costs money to maintain a safe workplace, and employers may choose to ignore safety standards under the false assumption that it will increase their profits. In reality, it costs less to prevent work-related injuries than it does to compensate for medical costs and lost productivity. Despite this fact, the OSHA continues to find thousands of safety violations in American workplaces year after year.
When workers are injured, employers may attempt to minimize or deny their claims to save money. Employers and their insurance companies typically maintain highly paid representatives who are incented to keep costs down and may take advantage of injured workers who are not aware of their rights. It is always in the best interest of injured workers to seek objective legal guidance to discover all of the protections provided to them by the law.
Galfand Berger LLP Helps Injured Workers
Our lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP help injured workers receive their entitled benefits. We also take the time to explore the unique circumstances of each accident to determine whether parties other than the employer may be liable for damages. This can make the difference between partial and full recovery of all possible damages. The following cases illustrate some of the results of our work:
- $8 million recovery for construction site accident. During the scope of his employment, a framing subcontractor fell 18 feet while installing lateral bracing on a house under construction. The worker suffered catastrophic injuries to his head, spine, and hearing which will require life-long care. The accident could have been prevented had the worker been provided with OSHA-mandated fall protection mechanisms. The worker also received no safety training from the employer, as required by the OSHA. The general contractor also failed to report the accident to the OSHA as required. Our lawyers obtained full recovery of damages for the injured worker.
- $2.25 million settlement for worker injured in crane accident. On the day of the accident, the worker had been tasked with troubleshooting a malfunctioning crane that was suspended high above the ground. In order to perform the assigned task, the worker had to climb a ladder, step on to the crane, and cross to the other side of the crane by walking on an 8-inch wide I-beam. While doing this, he lost his balance and fell to the ground, suffering a traumatic head injury, fractured vertebrae, a shattered femur, and a puncture wound to his bicep. Our lawyers demonstrated that the crane was defectively designed and assembled because it did not have a proper crossover walkway. The crane manufacturer was thus liable, and the case was subsequently settled in mediation, providing full recovery for the injured worker.
Each case is different, and the outcome always depends upon the unique circumstances involved. In every situation, our firm applies knowledge gained over many decades to deliver positive outcomes for our clients.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Fight for the Rights of Injured Employees
Our Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP have a long-standing reputation for empowering injured workers with the information they need to protect their rights. If you were injured in a workplace accident, call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or complete our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.