Employee Rights - OSHA Standards, Employee Responsibilities

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OSHA 3021
OSHA: Employee Workplace Rights horizontal rule

Although OSHA does not cite employees for violations of their responsibilities, each employee "shall comply with all occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued under the Act" that are applicable. Employee responsibilities and rights in states with their own occupational safety and health programs are generally the same as for workers in states covered by Federal OSHA. An employee should do the following: bulletRead the OSHA Poster at the jobsite.


bulletComply with all applicable OSHA standards.


bulletFollow all lawful employer safety and health rules and regulations, and wear or use prescribed protective equipment while working.


bulletReport hazardous conditions to the supervisor.


bulletReport any job-related injury or illness to the employer, and seek treatment promptly.


bulletCooperate with the OSHA compliance officer conducting an inspection if he or she inquires about safety and health conditions in the workplace.


bulletExercise rights under the Act in a responsible manner.

Contacting NIOSH

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NIOSH can provide free information on the potential dangers of substances in the workplace. In some cases, NIOSH may visit a jobsite to evaluate possible health hazards. The address is as follows:

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Centers for Disease Control
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30333
Telephone: 404-639-3061

NIOSH will keep confidential the name of the person who asked for help if requested to do so.

Other Sources of OSHA Assistance

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Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines

Effective management of worker safety and health protection is a decisive factor in reducing the extent and severity of work-related injuries and illnesses and their related costs. To assist employers and employees in developing effective safety and health programs, OSHA published recommended Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines (Federal Register 54(16): 3904-3916, January 26, 1989). These voluntary guidelines apply to all places of employment covered by OSHA.

The guidelines identify four general elements that are critical to the development of a successful safety and health management program: bulletManagement commitment and employee involvement,


bulletWorksite analysis,


bulletHazard prevention and control, and


bulletSafety and health training.

The guidelines recommend specific actions, under each of these general elements, to achieve an effective safety and health program. A single free copy of the guidelines can be obtained from the OSHA Publications Office, U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA/OSHA Publications, P.O. Box 37535, Washington, DC 20013-7535, by sending a self-addressed mail label with your request.

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State Programs

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 encourages states to develop and operate their own job safety and health plans. OSHA approves and monitors these plans. There are currently 25 state plan states; 23 of these states administer plans covering both private and public (state and local government) employment; the other 2 states, Connecticut and New York, cover the public sector only.

The 25 states and territories with their own OSHA-approved occupational safety and health plans must adopt standards identical to, or at least as effective as, the federal standards. Until a state standard is promulgated, OSHA will provide interim enforcement assistance, as appropriate, in these states. A listing of states with approved plans appears at the end of this booklet.

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Consultation Services

Consultation assistance is available on request to employers who want help in establishing and maintaining a safe and healthful workplace. Largely funded by OSHA, the service is provided at no cost to the employer. Primarily developed for smaller employers with more hazardous operations, the consultation service is delivered by state governments employing professional safety and health consultants. Comprehensive assistance includes an appraisal of all mechanical systems, physical work practices, and occupational safety and health hazards of the workplace and all aspects of the employer's present job safety and health program. In addition, the service offers assistance to employers in developing and implementing an effective safety and health program. No penalties are proposed or citations issued for hazards identified by the consultant.

For more information concerning consultation assistance, see the list of consultation projects listed at the end of this publication.

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Voluntary Protection Programs (VPPs)

Voluntary Protection Programs and onsite consultation services, when coupled with an effective enforcement program, expand worker protection to help meet the goals of the OSH Act. The three VPPs -- Star, Merit, and Demonstration -- are designed to recognize outstanding achievements by companies that have successfully incorporated comprehensive safety and health programs into their total management system. The VPPs motivate others to achieve excellent safety and health results in the same outstanding way as they establish a cooperative relationship between employers, employees, and OSHA.

For additional information on VPPs and how to apply, contact the OSHA regional offices listed at the end of this publication.

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Training and Education

OSHA's area offices offer a variety of information services, such as publications, audiovisual aids, technical advice, and speakers for special engagements. OSHA's Training Institute in Des Plaines, IL, provides basic and advanced courses in safety and health for federal and state compliance officers, state consultants, federal agency personnel, and private sector employers, employees, and their representatives.

The OSHA Training Institue also has established OSHA Training Institute Education Centers to address the increased demand for its courses from the private sector and from other federal agencies. These centers are nonprofit colleges, universities, and other organizations that have been selected after a competition for participation in the program. They are located in various parts of the U.S.

OSHA also provides funds to nonprofit organizations, through grants, to conduct workplace training and education in subjects where OSHA believes there is a lack of workplace training. Grants are awarded annually. Grant recipients are expected to contribute 20 percent of the total grant cost.

For more information on grants, training and education, contact the OSHA Training Institute, Office of Training and Education, 1555 Times Drive, Des Plaines, IL 60018, (847) 297-4810.

For further information on any OSHA program, contact your nearest OSHA area or regional office listed at the end of this publication.

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Electronic Information

Internet -- OSHA standards, interpretations, directives, and additional information are now on the World Wide Web at http://www.osha.gov.

CD-ROM -- A wide variety of OSHA materials, including standards, interpretations, directives, and more, can be purchased on the OSHA CD-ROM from the U.S. Government Printing Office. horizontal rule


For life-threatening situations, call (800) 321-OSHA. Complaints will go immediately to the nearest OSHA area or state office for help.

For further information on any OSHA program, contact your nearest OSHA area or regional office listed at the end of this publication.

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This page was updated on 2-Apr-2018