After a three year struggle to protect the nation’s workers, President Richard Nixon signed the Williams-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act on December 29, 1970. Although the document was created almost 45 years ago, the OSH Act of 1970 is still very important today. The policy offers federal protection for all workers across the nation from dangerous working environments, as well as from any unfair consequences that could be imposed on employees who report on a dangerous work environment.
These rights are laid out for you in section 11(c) of the OSH Act. It states, “No person shall discharge or in any manner discriminate against any employee because such employee has filed any complaint or instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding under or related to this Act or has testified or is about to testify in any such proceeding or because of the exercise by such employee on behalf of himself or others of any right afforded by this Act.” It’s a lot to digest at once, so we’ll break it down for you:
- The OSH Act protects anyone who makes a complaint or inquiry to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regarding an employee’s health or well-being on the job. This means that employers can’t legally fire or discriminate against an employee for bringing health and safety issues to light through OSHA (or any other government agency that deals with workplace safety).
- You don’t have to report an issue to a government agency for the inquiry to be protected through the OSH Act. The act protects all written or spoken workplace safety concerns made to a superior in good faith. Therefore, employees are guarded against unfair termination or discrimination based on safety complaints made to their employer.
- Workers are also free from unfair termination and discrimination under the OSH Act in the event that they participate in an OSHA investigation. Since participating in an investigation could mean anything from testifying in court to being the subject of an interview, this protection is extremely important for workers.
Understanding your rights as a worker will ensure that you feel comfortable taking steps to report workplace safety issues should you ever need to. If you ever need more information on workplace safety and your rights as a worker, you can find this information on the official OSHA website. your rights as a worker. As always, we strongly encourage workers and employers alike to stay up to date on all safety information and requirements in order to stay safe in their jobs.