In the midst of a global pandemic, it is more important than ever to ensure that workers have safe and sanitary working conditions. Unfortunately, not all corporate entities are good-faith actors and many workers may find themselves in working conditions that don’t comply with the best practices to support their health. With livelihoods and personal health hanging in the balance, workers can feel hopeless to combat dangerous working conditions. However, there are steps we can all take to improve working conditions.
Get the Facts
Begin by learning what the current rules set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have to say about your working conditions. If you are battling a current outbreak of a disease or infection, check with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) about the recommendations given for workplaces like yours in order to safeguard employee health. People who work in industries that have common health risks associated with them may be able to find lawyers who specialize in their issues, such as a Lung Disease Lawyer.
It’s also important for employees to know their rights. Many people are called back to work or otherwise coerced into going to work in unsafe conditions because they don’t know their rights. However, in Whirlpool Corp. v. Marshall, the Supreme Court ruled in 1980 that workers have the right to refuse to work if the conditions are unsafe. Do the homework so that you can become a good advocate for yourself and spread the information to others.
Report and Record
Creating a paper trail and collecting evidence is a key factor in changing unsafe working conditions. Take pictures, videos, or collect documentation. Alert your union, if you have one, to the unsafe working conditions. Speak with your management or other appropriate supervisors about the unsafe conditions. Its recommended that you communicate via email so that you have a written record of the contact that is digitally time-stamped.
If you are pulled into a conversation about your concerns be sure to send a follow-up email to the authorities you spoke with that sums up what was said and ask if you understood it correctly. If that still doesn’t garner results, meet or speak with OSHA or any other regulatory state agency charged with oversight and inspections.
Request an Inspection
Legally you have the right to report unsafe working conditions anonymously to the appropriate governmental agency. Those who have unions can depend on the union to file for an inspection or a lawsuit on behalf of the workers. However, if you aren’t unionized you still have the right to make a report without having your name released to your employer.
When you’re made to work in unsafe conditions, you’re having your rights infringed upon. It is essential that you seek help for both you and your fellow coworkers to ensure that you are given a safe workspace without risk to your livelihood. Take the steps mentioned above to document, record, and report any unsafe practices that are taking place in your workplace so that the rights of you and your fellow coworkers are protected.