It wasn’t until the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in 1970 that employers were responsible for the safety of their employees. OSHA continues to regulate workplace safety in Pennsylvania and all over the United States since it codified employer responsibility for workplace safety.
Pursuant to OSHA’s key provisions, any employer with even one employee must provide a safe, healthy workplace to all workers. In every state, including Pennsylvania, employers have a legal obligation to provide a workplace that is safe and free of known dangers. Not only must employers provide safe, healthy working conditions, but they must also provide the safety equipment and training required for their industry. Child labor laws impose duties on employers to provide a safe place to work for employees under 18.
Employees have the right to request an inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration if they believe their employer has broken federal law by committing safety violations. Employers that terminate or retaliate against employees who complain of unsafe or hazardous working conditions are in violation of federal law.
“State Plans” are workplace safety and health programs operated by individual states or U.S. territories that are approved by OSHA. OSHA monitors the performance of State Plans, which must be at least as effective as OSHA in providing workplace safety and preventing work injuries, illnesses, and deaths. For example, states that operate their own Occupational Safety and Health Plans must adopt maximum penalty levels that are at least as effective as those mandated by the federal OSHA.
In 2019, there are 22 State Plans providing coverage to both private sector and state and local government workers. There are also six State Plans that cover only state and local government workers. Pennsylvania does not have a federally approved occupational safety and health regulatory program and, thus, is not a “state plan” state.
Consequently, the federal OSHA has jurisdiction and covers most private sector workers in Pennsylvania, however, it does not cover state and local government workers. Nonetheless, all Pennsylvania employers have a duty to provide a safe workplace. In turn, Pennsylvania workers have rights.
At Powell Law, it is our goal to protect and assert the rights of our clients effectively throughout the entire workers’ compensation claims process. If you have suffered a work-related injury, consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE and you don’t pay unless we win!