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Workers have a say in safety inspections in Maryland

In Maryland, it is important for workers to know that they have some control over when the Occupational Health and Safety Administration carries out its inspections. If they think that the workplace is not safe or that a serious hazard needs to be examined, the workers themselves can put in complaints that could spur such an inspection. They do not have to wait for some other event -- like a workplace accident -- to draw OSHA's attention.

While workers may be nervous to report things, they must know what rights they have under current employment laws. For example, an employer is not allowed to discriminate in any way against a worker who has put in a complaint. The employer is also not allowed to fire that worker on those grounds. Finally, they cannot even change the worker's role within the company, by transferring them or demoting them, because of the filing.

If workers are still concerned about a backlash, they simply need to ask OSHA not to inform the employer about who lodged the complaint in the first place.

There are many ways to file these complaints, from calling on the phone to downloading an online form, printing it off and then sending it to an OSHA office location. Furthermore, workers can simply fill out the proper forms and submit them over the Internet.

It is worth noting, however, that these hard-copy complaints that go right to the office do end up bringing about more on-site inspections. The same could happen if a worker calls or puts in the paperwork online, but OSHA may elect to call the employer and work things out remotely, just by talking on the phone, rather than having the inspection.

Source: United States Department of Labor, "Occupational Safety & Health Administration" Aug. 12, 2014

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