Unsafe working conditions at your job can put you in a difficult position. You need to know how to report the danger and what happens next if you get injured by it.
The team of Philadelphia workers’ comp lawyers at Gibbons & Crichton, Personal Injury and Accident Lawyers explains how to report unsafe working conditions in Pennsylvania.
Reporting Unsafe Working Conditions in Pennsylvania
Report unsafe working conditions in Pennsylvania by submitting an OSHA online complaint form. To report an emergency condition, call (800) 321-OSHA.
Reporting to OSHA in Pennsylvania
OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It is a government body that oversees worker safety in the United States. In Pennsylvania, OSHA is administered through six area offices.
Use the online complaint form to provide the information needed for an investigation. You may want to use a personal device if you’re worried about employer retaliation.
Call (800) 321-6742 or your local OSHA office to make a non-emergency report by phone. Find your Pennsylvania area office.
OSHA states that they accept emailed copies of the Notice of Alleged Safety or Health Hazards. However, the email must be sent to the local OSHA office. Email addresses are not readily available online. It may be easier to use the online form.
You may go in person to your OSHA area office to discuss your concerns and ask questions.
In an emergency
If a working condition causes an emergency, fatality or life-threatening situation, call (800) 321-OSHA.
Can you report to OSHA anonymously?
While you can’t report to OSHA anonymously, the OSHA complaint form allows you to designate whether you want your name revealed to the employer. A whistleblower complaint for retaliation cannot be filed anonymously.
What happens when you make a report to OSHA?
When you make a report to OSHA, officials may conduct an on-site inspection. They may also notify the employer by phone or fax; the employer must respond. OSHA may choose to investigate further. If officials determine that an employer violated a standard or allowed a serious hazard, they may issue a citation, penalties and corrective action. The employer may appeal.
How Do I Address an Unsafe Condition at Work?
If you encounter an unsafe condition at work, you should notify your employer in writing. Give them a reasonable opportunity to address the situation. If they don’t fix it, you may report it to OSHA, getting public investigators involved. In an emergency, you may be justified in refusing to work.
What are my rights when there is an unsafe condition at work?
As a worker, you have the right to:
- Work in a safe environment
- Learn about workplace dangers, injury prevention and OSHA standards
- View records of workplace injuries
- Report dangerous working conditions
- Report suspected OSHA violations
- Make reports without retaliation
Pennsylvania Worker Safety Laws
What is the General Safety Law in PA?
The General Safety Law in Pennsylvania is No.174, P.L.654, 43 Pa. Stat. § 25-2. The law says that workplaces must be constructed and operated to reasonably protect the life, health and safety of employees. The law creates general requirements for eliminating dangerous conditions in operating systems, toxic fumes, construction, mines, flying objects, hazardous substances and plant operations.
How is the Pennsylvania General Safety Law enforced?
43 Pa. Stat. § 25-13 gives the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry the authority to enforce the General Safety Law. They may inspect a work site and issue directives to correct violations.
What is the penalty for violating the Pennsylvania General Safety Law?
A party who violates the Pennsylvania General Safety Law, or who impedes an enforcement official, may be fined. If they don’t pay the fine, they may face up to 30 days in jail. Penalties increase for subsequent offenses.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry refers people wanting to report unsafe working environments to OSHA.
Refusing Dangerous Work Under OSHA
Can I refuse to work if working conditions are dangerous?
To have a legal right to refuse work if working conditions are dangerous, you must:
- Face danger that a reasonable person would agree creates real danger of death or serious injury
- Have a genuine belief that the danger is imminent
- Ask the employer to eliminate the danger, if possible
- Not have time to request an OSHA inspection or address the danger in another way
- Tell your employer you won’t work until the hazard is mitigated
- Stay at your work location until your employer orders you to leave
It is okay to refuse to work in some circumstances where dangers are present. However, the danger must be real.
You must do everything possible to fix the situation in another way first, by notifying your employer and asking for an OSHA inspection. If a situation is so dangerous that you refuse to work, it should also be serious enough to report using the OSHA emergency number.
Unsafe Working Conditions and Third-Party Lawsuits
If an unsafe working condition causes an injury, an employer may be to blame. But there may also be third parties that contributed to the dangerous condition. Contractors, vendors, and other entities working nearby may have caused or contributed to the injury.
When there is a third party responsible for a dangerous condition, the injured victim may have a claim for compensation through a personal injury claim. The victim may bring a claim in addition to other remedies that may be available under law like workers’ compensation.
Injured by Dangerous Conditions on the Job? Talk to a Work Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured by a dangerous working condition, we invite you to talk to a lawyer at Gibbons & Crichton, Personal Injury and Accident Lawyers.
If you’ve gotten hurt, get Gibbons! We’re here to help people who are hurt because of the actions of others, including because of dangerous conditions at work. Contact us today.