Employees Have the Right to Safe Working Environment

Michigan is home to some industries that have above-average rates of occupational injuries, such as construction, manufacturing and transportation. It may seem that individuals who choose to work in such industries generally accept a higher risk of sustaining an injury on the job. However, both state and federal laws require employers to provide a safe working environment for their employees.

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides information about occupational injuries and illnesses in the state. According to MIOSHA, there were an estimated 109,300 occupational injuries and illnesses in Michigan in 2017. This number includes data from both the public and private sectors. The incidence rate of occupational illnesses and injuries per 100 full-time employees in 2017 was 3.3. Statistics indicate that the sector with the highest incidence rate of on-the-job injuries and illnesses was the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry.

The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration provides guidance on worker’s rights, jobsite safety requirements and penalties for noncompliance. It is an employer’s job to keep a workplace free of known dangers. Some key aspects of an employer’s responsibility include offering adequate training, recording work-related injuries, displaying warning signs around hazards and providing personal safety equipment. It is unlawful for employers to punish workers for reporting an occupational injury or an unsafe working environment.

OSHA offers information for individuals who feel they are in an unsafe working environment. An employee may file an official complaint to request an OHSA inspection of a workplace. While individuals may choose to report the unsafe conditions to a company manager first, they do not need to. A worker may file a complaint to OHSA requesting an inspection without telling his or her employer first.  During an inspection, OHSA encourages workers to identify hazards and inform the inspector of past occupational injuries and illness.