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What are employee rights when it comes to health and safety?

With any job in Michigan, workers have the right to believe that they will be accorded the proper safety procedures and equipment as part of their employment. They also have the right to complain if proper safety procedures are not followed and to request the necessary protective equipment. If a worker decides to be a whistleblower in an attempt to expose serous safety deficiencies in his or her workplace, then he or she has certain rights under the law to prevent wrongful termination and other forms of ill treatment at the hands of employers. Before moving forward with a case, it is imperative that workers know the requirements their employers must follow under the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act (MIOSH).

Under MIOSH, employers are required to do the following: provide employees a place of work that does not have recognizable hazards that can cause serious harm or lead to a fatality; follow the rules and standards of the law; post notices to make certain that employees understand how they are protected and what their obligations are; inform the proper authorities if there is a fatality or a hospitalization of three employees or more after an illness or injury during the same incident.

They are also required to do the following: provide medical records and health information that the employer has regarding the employee; provide the employee's representative the chance to be present when there is an investigation or inspection of the workplace, without retaliation; not allow an employee, apart from one who is needed to deal with imminent danger, to take part in a process that identifies an imminent danger as existing; and to inform an employee who was confronted with exposure toxic materials or dangerous agents that exceed the standards set by MIOSHA.

If there are unsafe or unhealthy conditions present, workers have the right to ask that an inspection take place. The complainant will maintain confidentiality when making such a complaint. Employees who complain are protected from any repercussions at the workplace for doing this. A complaint for retaliation can be filed with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs within 30 days of the discriminatory act.

Employees have to know that they have the right to expect a safe workplace. They also have the ability under MIOSH to complain without fear of retaliation if their safety is inadequately protected. If there is an issue with a MIOSH violation or any other problem related to employee safety, speaking to a legal professional about employee rights can help in pursuing a compensation for damages suffered.

Source: Michigan.gov, "Michigan Safety and Health Protection on the Job," accessed on July 12, 2016

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