How do I report hazards that could lead to a workplace accident?

Many Texas workers have identified unsafe workplace conditions that they fear could lead to injury or death on the job. If you discover such potentially hazardous conditions, you need to notify someone -- but whom?

In some cases, employees may be hesitant to take their concerns to their supervisors for fear of reprisal or even dismissal from the job. Luckily, there is a government agency that is looking out for those at risk of a workplace accident: the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA was created because of a federal statute, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which requires that employers provide safe working conditions for their employees. Workers must be safeguarded from recognized hazards that could cause injury, along with conditions that could cause long-lasting or acute illnesses.

Employers are required to abide by OSHA rules in a variety of ways. These include keeping records of safety and health violations, providing safety training for those at risk, and posting notices about OSHA. Employers are ultimately entirely responsible for providing a safe, healthful workplace for their employees.

If you are afraid that a safety hazard at your job site could cause you to be seriously injured, you have a couple of options. First, if you believe the hazard could pose immediate danger, you have the right to stop work. Employees can refuse to proceed with a dangerous task if they reasonably believe that the conditions may cause physical injury or death or if the employer refuses to fix the situation.

On the other hand, non-urgent situations should be reported to the employer in writing. If nothing changes, OSHA may be contacted to take further steps.

No one should have to work in unsafe conditions simply because of the laziness or negligence of their employer. All workers have the right to be protected from work-related deaths and serious injuries. In Texas and the rest of the United States, it's the law.

Source:, "Protecting Yourself from Unsafe Working Conditions," July 29, 2014

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