California state government includes a worker health and safety division. Most people call it “Cal/OSHA” because the state so closely modeled its division on the U.S. federal government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Both have a lot of muscle to protect workers from workplace safety hazards and to protect workers from retaliation if they raise questions with management or the state or federal governments about unsafe conditions at work.
California law is serious about your rights as a worker
California’s easy-to-read guide gives an overview of your workers’ rights. It says the law is on your side if you speak up or take action to keep yourself and other workers safe. You can report an injury or an unhealthy or unsafe situation, and you can complain or file legal action with a state agency.
It is just as important that it is illegal for your employer to punish you by threatening you with deportation, firing you, giving you a worse job or shift or keeping you from getting another job.
OSHA suggests telling your employer about the danger if think you can. You should also consider leaving the workplace immediately if you feel its safety is so bad that you think you could be seriously hurt by staying.
Otherwise, as California suggests, you can consider talking with your coworkers and planning what to do together. The state also recommends contacting a worker organization or someone who can advise you about your legal protections. Take a lot of notes about anything said or done between you and your employer. And when you feel you may need the help of the state, contact Cal/OSHA.
OSHA also emphasizes your right to know the truth
OSHA’s guide also gives a handy list of your rights as a worker in a safe workplace. Along with a long list of many more rights, you have the right to:
- Know about hazardous chemicals in the workplace and to get training in how to deal with them.
- Know about the laws that protect you and your rights, for which OSHA has an official poster that employers must post in your workplace.
- See the official records of injuries and illnesses at your workplace, tests of the level of toxic chemicals or hazardous noise.
- File a complaint with OSHA or Cal/OSHA, and to do it without punishment from your employer.
Cal/OSHA recommends taking a lot of notes about anything said or done between you and your employer. When you feel you may need the help, contact Cal/OSHA or legal advice.