Working in construction is a dangerous occupation. The construction industry is one of the leaders in workplace injuries every year. With all of the hazards posed by working on a construction site, it is imperative to have proper, fully functioning safety equipment. All employees have the legal right to a safe workplace, and bad safety equipment violates that right.
Steps to Take
If you are a construction worker and find that your employer has provided you with bad safety equipment, you should not simply take the bad equipment and get to work. It is fully within your legal rights to have safety equipment that will actually keep you safe. There are a few steps that you can take to ensure that you receive the safety equipment you need, but hopefully, the first step will be enough:
- Inform your boss
- Get your co-workers involved
- Inform your union rep
- Report your employer to OSHA
- Encourage co-workers to file complaints as well
- Contact a labor attorney
Inform Your Boss
When you are presented with safety equipment that is not up to the job, you should report it to your boss immediately. Never work with unsafe equipment. Hopefully, this will be the only step that you need to take, and your boss will replace the faulty equipment. If your boss refuses, then go above their head to their boss, and report the issue there. If there is still no resolution, continue up to the top of the food chain.
Get Your Co-Workers Involved
Ineffective safety equipment poses a hazard to all who use it. There is power in numbers. If you are unable to get your boss to replace your safety equipment over the demands of a single employee, get several employees involved.
Inform Your Union Rep
If there is still no movement from management and you are a union member, let your union rep know about the issue. Pressure from the union is often enough to get concessions from management.
Report Your Employer to OSHA
When not part of a union, or when union pressure isn’t enough to get things moving, it is time to report your employer to the authorities. File a complaint against your employer with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA is in charge of ensuring that workers across the country have a safe workplace and holding employers who violate employees’ rights accountable.
You have the option to file your complaint anonymously if you wish to do so for fear of reprisal from your employer. Of course, if you don’t file anonymously, or your employer suspects the complaint came from you and tries to punish you in some way, you also have legal protections available. It is illegal for a company to bring down any unfair punishment over your demand that your right to a safe workplace is met.
Encourage Co-Workers to File Complaints As Well
Once again, there is strength in numbers. The more complaints that come in against your employer, the more likely it is that OSHA will respond quickly. OSHA will ensure that you receive the safety equipment you require, while likely leveling fines against your employer that will discourage them from further violations of safety laws.
Contact a Labor Attorney
In the rare case that even after a report to OSHA, no improvements have been made, contact a labor attorney. A labor attorney will discuss your options with you in regards to legal action and advise you on how to proceed. Ensure that your employer is held responsible for their negligent practices.
What if You Are Already Injured?
In some cases, you might not realize that you are using faulty safety equipment until after it fails. You may also have known the equipment was faulty but decided to go ahead and use the bad safety equipment that your employer-provided, for fear of lost pay or lost employment. When the use of bad safety equipment results in injuries sustained in the workplace, you may want to file a workers’ comp claim.
In a situation where the injury was caused due to negligence on the part of your employer, you might want to talk to a construction accident lawyer about filing a lawsuit instead. When an employer behaves negligently, like failing to provide safety equipment or providing bad safety equipment, they are opening themselves up to a lawsuit. A lawsuit is likely to result in a much higher payout for the injured employee, at a much greater cost to their employer.
If you were hurt on the job due to faulty safety equipment or other negligent behavior by your employer, contact a construction accident lawyer to discuss your options. Everyone deserves a reasonably safe workplace, and employers who refuse to provide one deserve to be brought to justice.