Improperly stacked items. Disorganized work stations. Insufficient lighting. Damaged safety gear.
Seemingly innocuous things like these aren’t just inconvenient; they can create hazardous working conditions that ultimately lead to accidents, injuries or worse.
It’s certainly understandable to not want to be the one who “blows the whistle” about safety concerns at work – after all, who wants to be known as a snitch? But if you’re hesitating to report hazardous work conditions for personal reasons, think of the consequences.
What might happen if you do nothing?
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In other words, it’s better to be a snitch than to wind up with stitches! Here’s the right way to report unsafe working conditions, practices or environments (please note, this information is not intended as legal advice and should not be construed as such):
Know your options and rights. Under federal and state laws, your employer must provide a safe workplace. If you are asked to work in unsafe conditions, you may:
- Report the violation directly to your employer;
- Report the violation to the state and/or federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA);
- Request an OSHA inspection and speak to the inspector;
- Refuse to work, if: conditions pose an immediate and substantial risk of serious physical injury or death; the employer will not fix the dangerous condition; or you do not have a reasonable alternative.
If a safety hazard does not pose an imminent danger:
- Contact your union, if you are part of one. Your union can act as a bargaining agent on your half to address unsafe working conditions with your employer.
- Inform the employer of the problem in writing. Give your employer an opportunity to correct the condition.
- If you are a PrideStaff employee on assignment at a client company, contact your staffing coordinator immediately. We want you to stay safe on the job and need to know if you observe dangerous conditions while on assignment with our client.
Do not let fear of retaliation deter you.
OSHA regulations and many state laws prohibit your employer from retaliating against you for reporting a violation. In other words, your employer may not fire, demote or reduce your pay for filing a complaint about unsafe working conditions.
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