In 1970, the United States, in conjunction with the enactment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act created OSHA, or the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, to ensure the wellbeing and safety of workers. The administration created and maintains standards for many lines of work, including construction, agriculture, maritime and general industry. In addition, OSHA makes certain that employers, including those in New York, comply with the General Duty Clause. This clause makes certain that workplaces stay "free of serious recognized hazards."
New York employees are entitled to work in a safe workplace environment. This includes protection from toxic chemicals. In addition, workers are entitled to work on machines that are deemed safe, and workers must be provided the appropriate safety gear when in jeopardy of injury. For example, workers are entitled to gloves when handling hazardous material, or a helmet or harness when working in a position prone to falling objects or falls.
Workers also have the right to request an inspection by OSHA and to personally speak with the inspector. Employees are allowed to see workplace injury and illness logs, review cases of work-related injuries and illnesses, and see copies of test results related to hazards in the workplace.
Employers may not want to see their company painted in a negative light, and may try to intimidate or fire an employee who seeks this information or files for an inspection. It is important to understand that workers are also protected against retaliation from an employer for seeking this information.
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, you may wish to speak with a legal firm familiar with employment law to help. Having a team of law professionals at your side may help in protecting your job and your well-being, and will let you know whether you may be entitled to compensation, depending upon the situation.
Source: OSHA.gov, "Occupational Safety & Health Administration," accessed on Feb. 23, 2016