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What are the job safety rights of a Bergen County worker?

Employees' rights to safe work environments are protected in New Jersey at state and federal levels. The Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health Program is a state-run program reserved for public sector employees. The private sector workforce has similar protections under the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The agencies are responsible for developing and enforcing occupational safety standards. Many Bergen County employees may not be aware of the rights they have to monitor an employer's safety practices and report violations. For instance, if a worker worries that negligent safety precautions could cause a construction accident, he or she could file a complaint with a New Jersey OSHA office.

One of the many rights you have is anonymity. OSHA will not reveal the names of employees who report unsafe work conditions. Employers aren't allowed to retaliate against workers who contact OSHA. Employees can ask federal safety inspectors to visit and inspect a potentially dangerous work site.

Employers must hang a workers' rights poster where employees easily can see it and provide workers with copies of safety rules and regulations, including job-specific rules. Upon request, an employer is obliged to show company records of past job-related illnesses and accidents and the worker's own medical records, including any exposure to harmful substances. Additionally, workers also can have access to results of hazardous materials' tests and outcomes from earlier safety inspections.

An employee representative – chosen by a union or non-union workers – is permitted to accompany OSHA officials during workplace inspections. The workers' representative also may participate in inspectors' safety discussions with employers. Workers have a right to learn how an employer responded to OSHA recommendations.

The full list of employee responsibilities and rights are available on the OSHA website. Medical and wage loss benefits for job-related injuries and illnesses are paid through workers' compensation. In some cases, damage claims against third parties can provide added monetary relief.

Source: FindLaw, "OSHA and Construction Workers' Right to a Safe Workplace" Sep. 07, 2014

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