The Occupational Health and Safety Rights of Workers


By Holly Shaw
Outreach Executive, Effective Software

In most countries, workers union representatives fight for the rights of their workers but there are also laws that govern such rights and provide a guidelines which should be followed. These laws usually cover areas like compensation, privacy, and safety of the employees. The occupational health and safety rights of workers are usually included in the common law and are divided into subcategories which highlight specifics. However, in most cases, workers can only use common law under special circumstances – these exclude injuries that occur at the workplace.

The occupational health and safety rights of workers remain the best defense workers have against injustices at the workplace. Some of the main areas it covers include the roles the employers and workers play at the workplace, ideas on how to solve problems, the role of inspectors and “involvement” of workers during consultations. In general, these laws protect both the employer and employee thereby ensuring that good working relationship is maintained.

For David Rowland, Head of Marketing at Effective Software, health and safety is the responsibility of everyone in an organisation. This may seem tough, but the payoffs are huge: increased productivity of workers, increased bottom line, and greater consumer confidence.

Some of the obligations given to the worker under these laws include taking care of oneself and avoiding reckless endangerment of an individual or others, respecting the employer and cooperating with him/her and reporting any health and safety concerns including any hazardous events that put the employees at risk.

The law also covers several rights the worker has such as having welfare facilities at the workplace; these include bathrooms and toilets, first aid facilities and lunchrooms. The worker is also entitled to the right training programs and information that can help them accomplish their tasks well. Other rights of the worker under this law include ensured health and safety, having a health and safety representative from the same work group, having safety equipment especially when it comes to handling and/or operating heavy machinery and having the representative present at any meetings concerning health and safety with the employer or an inspector. A worker can also refuse to work under unsafe conditioned or request the representative to give a directive against unsafe work conditions.

The occupational health and safety of workers also offer protection to workers who may face threats when they speak against health and safety concerns. As a worker, you can elect your health and safety representative and call for discussions with your employer concerning designation of work groups.

Apart from helping workers and employers, the health and safety workers act also gives governors the authority to come up with befitting rules and regulations. It also allows ministers to provide guidance to the people impacted by the laws by providing them with education and other factors that can help them understand and keep the rules.

The act also deals with other sectors that have an indirect impact on the health and safety of workers. Areas like the dangerous goods act, road and safety act, and racial and religious tolerance act all affect the health and safety of work although indirectly. This act covers the most important areas of a worker’s life. The right to participate, the right to know and the right to deny working in an unsafe environment are all covered in this act. It is, therefore, your responsibility as a worker or employer to familiarize yourself with the different aspects of the act to avoid problems relating to it.


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