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OSHA enacts anti-retaliation rules

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has instituted electronic reporting regulations for submitting sickness and injury information. OHSA will publicize some of the information on its website in order to promote safety in the workplace. The regulations include three provisions that task certain employers with complying with anti-retaliation rules. Oklahoma workers should be aware that they have the right to provide information about workplace injuries or safety violations without fearing retaliation.

Employers are first required to advise their employees of all of their rights pertaining to the reporting of injuries and illnesses that occur while working. This can entail the prominent posting in work spaces of materials that provide the information, such as the workers' rights bulletin issued by OSHA in April 2015.

According to the second provision, the reporting methods provided to employees must be within reason and should not present hardships that would inhibit or dissuade a worker from reporting. An example that was offered detailed the harsh assessment that was levied against a worker who was experiencing neck and shoulder pain due to work. After reporting the symptoms a week after they began, the worker was assessed a final warning for not reporting the injuries quickly enough. OSHA stated that the reporting policy was inadequate as a sufficient amount of time was not allowed for the worker to make a report.

The existing anti-retaliation rule, Section 11 (c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, is made more enforceable with the addition of a third provision. The current rule forbids employers from acting out against employees whose reporting actions bring about investigatory proceedings. With the new provision, employers can be cited for retaliating.

Employees are entitled to safe working environments and the right to report injuries that occurred at work without fear of repercussions. They also have the right to report violations of federal safety regulations. Those who have been unfairly singled out for doing so may want to meet with an attorney in order to see what recourse they may have.

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