Question: I work at an unsafe PA construction site. My employer does not have workers working at heights above 6 feet wearing fall protection gear. One of the workers said something about it to a supervisor who told him that he can find someone else to do the job if the worker thinks it’s unsafe. The worker then didn’t say anything about it again because he needs a job. Can I report my employer? If so, who do I report to and how do I do that? Can they fire me for that? What happens if someone gets hurt because they did not have fall protection?
Answer: Yes, you may report your employer to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal organization that enforces federal standards regarding workplace safety. Employers at PA workplace and construction sites must abide by OSHA standards to ensure the safety of their workers. If employers do not follow or violate OSHA regulations, workers have a right to file a complaint with OSHA. Workers can also request OSHA to inspect their worksites if they believe that there are serious hazards.
Related: Injured at Work in Pennsylvania? How Compensation is Determined
PA Worksite Safety – How to Report Your Employer
You have three ways of reporting your employer depending on the situation. If you want to file a complaint for a non-emergent or non-life threatening safety issue, you can go online and complete the Complaint Form. Complaints submitted online will be forwarded to the appropriate state plan for response.
If you want OSHA to come and inspect the worksite, then you should submit a written complaint to an OSHA Area or Regional office. You can download the OSHA Complaint Form here. You can also get a copy from your local OSHA Regional or Area office.
Whether you submit the form online or via mail, you have a right to keep your personal information confidential, i.e., your employer would not find out you filed a complaint. On the form, there is a box you can check to inform OSHA to not disclose your name.
You can also call your local OSHA Regional or Area office to file your complaint. If the situation is life threatening or an emergency, it is best to call OSHA to report the complaint.
If your employer discovers that you filed a complaint with OSHA, it cannot fire, retaliate or discriminate against you for it. This is against Pennsylvania law.
PA Worker’s Compensation – Injured Workers’ Rights
If you were injured at a PA worksite because your employer did not allow workers to wear fall protection, you may file a workers’ compensation claim pursuant to PA Workers’ Compensation laws. Your work comp benefits include medical expenses and a portion of lost wages, if any. However, your employer would be immune from a PA injury lawsuit due to the exclusivity rule under the law. Regardless of who caused the workplace injury, i.e., negligence of the employer or negligence of the employee, injured workers are entitled to receive work comp benefits, and negligent employers cannot be sued. However, there are limited exceptions to this rule in PA, and it is best to talk to a Philadelphia construction site work injury lawyer after a worksite accident.
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