The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) is a body of federal law designed to encourage and mandate a safe work environment for private sector NJ employees. Indeed, private sector New Jersey employers must adhere to this federal law. Public sector employers, on the other hand, are regulated through the New Jersey Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health (PEOSH) State Plan. Safety hazard complaints are investigated by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDLWD), and workplace health hazards fall under the purview of the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH).
Who is covered under OSHA/PEOSH?
OSHA protects NJ workers in the private sector while PEOSH covers local and state government employees. The following individuals are not protected under OSHA/PEOSH in New Jersey.
- Self-employed workers
- Farm workers who are the immediate family members of their farm employer and the employer has no outside, non-familial employees
Employer Responsibilities Under OSHA
Under the OSHA scheme, employers are required to follow certain guidelines designed to promote employee and worksite safety. OSHA sets standards by industry: Agriculture, Construction, Maritime Operations and General Industry. Your employer is responsible for following the applicable health and safety standards.
The following are just a few examples of the standards set forth by OSHA:
- Certain employers engaged in manufacturing must provide alarms, training, color-coded systems, labels, and chemical information sheets to employees.
- Employers must keep accurate records of work-related illnesses and injuries.
- Employers must ensure potential injury and illness data is posted where workers can access it.
- OSHA posters and any citations must be placed in a highly visible area.
- Certain employers must provide medical tests, such as hearing exams to employees.
- Certain employers must conduct air sampling tests to ensure clean breathable air at the place of employment.
- 8 hour reporting of all work-related deaths is required by OSHA.
- OSHA requires 24 hour reporting of all work-related amputations, losses of an eye and inpatient hospitalization.
- Employers may not retaliate or discriminate against a worker for exercising their rights under OSHA.
Employee Rights Under OSHA
In addition to regulating employer activities, employees have a number of rights under the federal OSHA framework:
- Employees may file a complaint and ask OSHA to inspect a workplace if they believe there is an OSHA violation.
- Employees may request that your name be withheld from your employer as the reporting party.
- During an inspection, employees have the right to accompany the OSHA inspector, talk privately with them and participate in meetings with the employer and the inspector before and after performance of the inspection.
- After requesting an inspection, an employee may obtain the results as well as a review of the OSHA inspection if no citations are issued.
- Your employer must establish a process for reporting work-related injuries and diseases. Workplace policy and practices must not discourage employees from this reporting.
- You may file a complaint with OSHA within 30 days for any discrimination or retaliation by your employer following reporting a work-related injury or illness, or for filing an OSHA violation complaint.
- Employees have the right to refuse to work in hazardous situations.
If you have questions or need more information about your rights under OSHA, please contact The Reinartz Law Firm.