If you work in construction, you know your job is dangerous. There’s no question that you’re assuming some risk when you work on scaffolding hundreds of feet above the ground. But you also know your employer needs to take precautions to make your workplace as safe as reasonably possible.
Except that’s not always what happens. The Department of Buildings recently acknowledged that roughly one-quarter of active sites are not in compliance. At the same time, construction has become the city’s deadliest industry as fatal accidents have shot up by 33% from five years ago and other injuries have risen by a staggering 221%.
Your right to a safe workplace
The fines the city has handed out for employers caught counterfeiting Site Safety Cards may look steep, but they don’t always prevent work-hungry employers from cutting some corners in to move quickly from job to job while the market’s hot. The real losers in these situations are the workers who don’t get the safety training they need.
But thanks to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, you have the right to a safe workplace and can ask OSHA to inspect your workplace if you believe it’s unsafe. You also have several associated rights and protections:
- Protection from retaliation and discrimination
- Safety training in a language you understand
- Get information about workplace hazards
- Get copies of your medical records
- Learn about other work-related injuries and illnesses
While it can be complicated to navigate and uphold your rights, they exist to keep you safe. You deserve to receive safety training and to know what hazards you might face in your workplace. And you shouldn’t be punished for exercising your rights.
Don’t cut corners on yourself
It’s worth noting that if one-quarter of the city’s construction sites are out of compliance, that means three-quarters are complying. Most people understand the need for safety even if that means spending a little extra time and energy. If your employer is trying to shave time by cutting corners, you want to stick up for yourself. It’s your health, and you want to enjoy the fruits of your labor with your friends and family.