As an employee, you have the right to a safe work environment free from hazards that can cause injury or illness. While not all dangers are clear, your employer has an obligation to correct known hazards and any that have a potential to injure someone.
If you are injured on the job, you have the right to seek compensation through workers’ compensation benefits. You also should familiarize yourself with your workplace safety rules and regulations – regardless if you have been injured. Knowing your rights could protect you in the event you become injured later too.
Illinois Occupational Safety and Health Administration – and How It Affects Your Chicago Area Workplace
Illinois created their extension of OSHA in 2009 as part of their Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL). Currently, the central office for Illinois OSHA is in Springfield, and the program covers state and local government workers in the state. Federal government workers are not included within the Illinois OSHA guidelines. This includes those employed by the United States Postal Service or civilian workers employed by military bases in the state.
You may assume that Illinois OSHA governs your workplace, but you must note that Illinois has not yet adopted a workplace safety and health regulation rule for any private sector. Therefore, your workplace falls under the general guidelines and regulations of OSHA – not Illinois OSHA. If, however, you work for the state of Illinois, then your controls would fall under Illinois OSHA.
What Rights Do Non-State Employed Workers Have?
As a worker in the private sector, you are still protected under the federal OSHA guidelines. Essentially, anyone employed has the right to a safe work environment, and OSHA requires that all employers create a work environment that follows their standards and are free of any potential hazards.
Just some rights private-sector workers have:
Receiving Training (Required by OSHA Standards)
Employers are required to provide training at no cost to their employees to ensure workplace regulations are followed. These training requirements include:
- Training all employees on any chemicals that they may be exposed to during their employment and the proper handling and protection from those hazards. Employers must also have a Chemical Hazard Communication program, label all chemicals, and have material safety data sheets (MSDS) in an accessible, public area. You must be trained on any health complications associated with those chemicals, and your employer must make it clear what they are doing to keep you safe.
- Health and safety standards your employer must follow must also be presented to you during your training. This includes unique rules such as how to handle bloodborne pathogens, lockout-tagout, confined spaces, and construction-related hazards.
Ability to Request Information Regarding Standards and Injuries
- Safety and Health Standards: You can request information from your employer about the chemicals they use and tests they have done to protect you from hazardous chemical, radiation, and noise levels.
- Copies: You can request copies of standards, rules, regulations, and other OSHA standards (including statewide standards) your employer must follow. Typically, employers keep these copies available in a public area but should also allow workers to request private copies.
- Exposures: You should be able to request records on exposure. Employee status and health information will not be released, but statistics and unprotected data can be requested.
- Injuries and Illnesses: You can also request information about the logs of any injuries and illnesses, but you may need an authorized representative to do so for you – such as a workplace injury attorney.
- The Existence of Records: If you suffer an exposure or workplace injury, your employer must notify you when those records are available and their location. They must also give you these records within 15 days of your initial request to receive copies.
Requests of Action
You have the right to request that your employer takes action if you see a hazard or any violation of OSHA regulations. Request in writing and keep official copies so that if your employer does not correct these hazards, you have proper documentation.
All employees have the right to file a complaint and request that OSHA step in to correct any known workplace hazards or conduct an inspection. If you believe there are serious violations, you have several options for reporting the violation, including:
- Filing the complaint online
- Writing to OSHA
- Using OSHA’s reporting line
- Faxing in your request
If you want an official OSHA inspection, you must request one from the local OSHA office.
Lastly, if you do make a complaint, you have the right to request that your name be kept confidential.
What about State Employees?
Most of Illinois OSHA regulations follow the practices of federal OSHA. In fact, they have adopted all OSHA standards as part of their 29 CFR that includes general industries, shipyards, and construction. Illinois has a unique approach to recordkeeping for OSHA, which it requires all state governments and local governments to adhere to.
What If I’m Injured at Work?
If you are working in Illinois and you are injured on the job or you suspect that an OSHA violation caused your injury, it is best that you speak to a workplace injury attorney.
Not only will you need the assistance with your workplace compensation, but you may need help filing your OSHA complaint to protect other employees still working.
Speak with an attorney from Jacobs Law, LLC today to explore your options. Our team is here to help you get through your workplace injury, report violations, and ensure you receive fair compensation.