In certain situations, some employees will continue to work in an unsafe work environment because they fear backlash from management or other employees, up to and including termination, if they were to make a report. However, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 provides protection for employees by allowing them to report OSHA violations anonymously. Environmental Health and Safety Online offers a listing of steps to making such a report. It should also be noted that you do not have to show that a workplace was unsafe in order to collect workers’ compensation benefits. It is a no-fault system.
There are several differing types of OSHA violations. A De Minimis violation in one which is technical in nature. While normally less serious, it is still a violation of OSHA regulations which could cause an issue to arise. An Other-Than-Serious violation in one which likely would not result in death or serious injury, but nonetheless could pose a hazard to workers.
A Serious violation occurs when an employer is aware of a serious issue which could result in serious injury or death but does nothing to remedy the situation. These violations result is stiff penalties and fines. Other types can be willful, repeated, or failure to abate prior violation.
If you or someone you know feels forced to work in an unsafe environment for any reason, contact an attorney to discuss what options are available to remedy the situation in the most peaceful manner. He or she can make sure that your job, as well as your name, are protected from potential backlash of any kind. In addition, if an employer willfully refuses to provide a safe working environment, other legal options may be available. If you are in a situation similar to this, consulting with an experienced attorney can help make your legal options clear.