It is essential for any worker to feel confident and secure at their workplace from any kind of potential danger or hazard that could jeopardize their health, or could be life threatening. Thousands of Americans are injured and killed every year because of accidents and hazards at workplace that could have been avoided.
“The unsafe act is a violation of an accepted safe procedure which could permit the occurrence of an accident.”
“The unsafe condition is a hazardous physical condition or situations that could directly permit the occurrence of an accident.”
Injuries and accidents cause by poor management such as slips and trips, or falls or other mishaps which can impact the physical and mental well-being of an employee, demands compensation and in the United States, personal injury laws provide protection to workers in case they are injured due to dangerous working conditions.
So, if you are looking to classify unsafe working conditions and get legal help to anyone you know who has gone through it, read this blog carefully for more information.
Types of Unsafe Working Conditions
According to OSHA, if any employer fails to adhere to the rules and regulations provided by OSHA, it can be presumed that they are not providing a safe working environment to their employees and leaving them open to all types of work injuries. Let’s look at the types of unsafe working conditions.
Chemical hazards refer to being exposed to any kind of chemical preparation in the workplace, whether it is solid, liquid or gas. Under this classification lies, cleaning products and solvents, vapors and fumes and flammable materials. It can also include gasoline, carbon monoxide and asbestos.
Ergonomic Hazards are related to the physical well-being of an employee. It includes work that requires repetitive and awkward motions, or might include an activity required to lift things frequently or has to do with the body positions and the work environment, such as bad lighting or an improper adjusted workstation.
Biological hazards come from working with plants, animals or people. Things like blood, bodily fluids, bacteria and viruses or insect bites as well as animal and bird droppings, can all be classified as biological hazards.
Examples of Unsafe Working Conditions
If you spot any of the above hazards at your workplace, you could be working in an unsafe environment. However, if your manager follows the right steps in order to protect you and all other employees, by following the OSHA, state and federal rules and standards, it upholds the employer’s end of the bargain.
Let’s look at some examples of Unsafe Working Conditions in the United States.
- Operating machinery at unsafe speed
- Failing to balance materials properly
- Failing to train employees properly
- Failing to adopt and maintain the use of personal protective equipment
- Failing to use and maintain safety devices
- Improper way of lifting things
- Wrongly using personal protective equipment
- Wrongly using safety devices
- Failing to label or wrongly labelling chemicals
- Operating machinery against safe workplace practices
- Overloading machinery
- Removing or disabling protective guards on machinery or equipment
- Repairing or adjusting machinery while it is in use, or charge with electricity
- Smoking at unsafe places
- Standing or working under open hatches, shafts or suspended loads and scaffolds
- Using defective tools and equipment
- Using tools and equipment wrongly or unsafely
- Using tools and equipment without proper training or authority
- Using unapproved equipment or tools
- Lack of cleaning and Poor housekeeping
- Workplace congestion
- Fire hazards
- Inadequate safety warning systems
- Loud noise pollution
- Inadequate ventilation or illumination
- Blocked safety exits
How to Report Unsafe Working Conditions?
As a worker, you have a right to demand a safe working environment, which means, you can contact authorities such as OSHA or bring it to your employer’s attentions to request for proper functioning of safe practices at work.
Once a complaint is filed with OSHA, an investigation and inspection is opened immediately which could cause heavy fines and even shut down of the business.
Reporting unsafe working conditions require:
- Reporting Directly to Employer
Reporting the hazard to your employer is the fastest and the most efficient way to address a hazard at the workplace. Even though this step might not be required, it leads to employer’s attention on such issues which triggers them to take immediate action in order to correct the situation before it worsens.
All employers might not take action after reporting, in such a situation, the workers might choose to stay anonymous while submitting a complaint to OSHA, that could trigger an investigation.
- Reporting to OSHA
Submitting a complaint to the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration through an email or online, or just calling the helpline desk of the businesses’ region can initiate an inspection in order to correct the situation at the workplace.
- Providing Detailed Information for Inspection
It is essential to detail out all the information regarding the hazard or the potential danger that you wish to report about. A detailed and in-depth report often triggers an investigation or an in-person inspection of your work site.
If you do not wish to stay anonymous, it is better to take active part in the inspection to make the OSHA assigned officer understand the situation better at the work site. You will also be encouraged to speak to the inspection officer privately to convey your issues.
- Being a Part of the Closing Conference
Once the inspection is complete, the inspection officer is expected to share his findings with the employer which will determine if there were any violations that occurred and what are the next steps in order to correct the issues.
As the person who reported the issue, you will be allowed to obtain a copy of the report and speak privately with the investigating officer regarding the findings or any other dangerous situation at the workplace.
Now that you know all about unsafe working conditions, do you think you need to report an issue or need to get help for a fellow co-worker?
If so, you must check in with the OSHA regional office or simply, talk to your employer about these issues to understand your legal rights that you can have after a serious workplace injury or worse, death of a known!