Hurricane eMatrix » Employer Responsibilities and Worker Rights

Employer Responsibilities

Each employer is responsible for the safety and health of its workers and for providing a safe and healthful workplace for its workers. Employers are required to protect workers from the anticipated hazards associated with the response and recovery operations that workers are likely to conduct.

As part of this effort, employers should evaluate each task and operation, identify the hazards associated with it, and establish the exposure controls necessary to adequately protect workers. Employers may accomplish this by developing a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) for each task that workers will conduct and establishing associated safety and health procedures and protocols that protect workers from the hazards identified. In developing their JHAs, employers should involve a team—ideally composed of safety and health professionals, the workers, and their supervisors—familiar with the work to be completed and the hazards associated with that work. Employers using this Matrix should share it with their workers.

Employers are also responsible for maintaining logs and supplemental documentation for all recordable injury and illness cases when required by OSHA/State Plan Recordkeeping regulations. The OSHA Act and OSHA standards and regulations also include reporting requirements. For example, employers must report any fatal accident or one that results in the hospitalization of three or more workers to the nearest OSHA office within 8 hours. (See 29 CFR 1904.39 and OSHA Regional and Area Offices.)

Each employer is also responsible for preserving, maintaining, and providing workers with access to worker exposure and medical records in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.1020. mployers must tell workers and their representative where the records collected under this and other applicable standards (e.g., OSHA's comprehensive lead in construction standard 29 CFR 1926.62) will be located, how the data in the records will be communicated to workers, how the records will be maintained, and how to access the records.

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Worker Rights

All workers involved in the oil spill response and cleanup have the right to a safe workplace just as they would in any other job. They are also protected if they are fired or in any way retaliated against for raising safety concerns to an employer, participating in safety and health activities or exercising their rights under the Act.

You have the right to a safe workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) was passed to prevent workers from being killed or seriously harmed at work. The law requires that employers provide their workers with working conditions that are free of known dangers. OSHA sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards. OSHA also provides information, training and assistance to workers and employers. Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or there are serious hazards. Contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) if you have questions or want to file a complaint. We will keep your information confidential. We are here to help you.

For more complete information on your rights, see the OSHA Worker Rights page.

Workers should follow work rules and safe practices established by their employers, and in particular should use assigned personal protective equipment as appropriately instructed.

An worker should immediately notify his or her supervisor of any hazard or any change in activities that creates new hazards.

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Limitations and Disclaimer

The Matrix does not provide an in-depth analysis of OSHA standards and regulations and cannot address all hazards. It does not increase or diminish any OSHA requirements or employer obligation under those requirements. It is intended as a guide and quick reference for employers and response and recovery workers. The Matrix captures major activities involved in hurricane response and recovery, highlights many of the hazards associated with them, and recommends "best practices." Employers must evaluate the specific hazards associated with the job/operation at the site where the work is being performed.

Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their workers. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health.

The Hazard Exposure and Risk Assessment Matrix for Hurricane Response and Recovery Work provides a general overview of particular topics related to current OSHA standards. It does not alter or determine compliance responsibilities in OSHA standards or the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, or the equivalent State Plan standards and requirements. Because interpretations and enforcement policy may change over time, you should consult current OSHA/State Plan administrative interpretations and decisions by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and the courts for additional guidance on OSHA compliance requirements. Employers should modify their procedures as appropriate when additional, relevant information becomes available.