There are several federal laws that regulate maritime worker safety, including the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, and general maritime law. But there’s another federal law that also sets safety standards for the maritime industry. That is the Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) Act, which is implemented by the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).
Am I Covered Under the OSH Act?
The OSH Act applies to most private employers and to all federal agencies. The federal OSH Act does not, however, cover Louisiana government workers, either on the state or local level.
Maritime Worker Rights Under the OSH Act
Maritime workers have a right to a safe work environment. Federal law gives you the right to speak up about hazardous conditions without fear of retaliation. And under the OSH Act, you also have a right to, among other things:
- Receive worker training in a language that you understand. For example, if you are a native Spanish speaker and aren’t fluent in English then you have a right to Spanish-language job training.
- Be provided with the gear you need to do your job safely, such as gloves, a helmet or a harness.
- Request a safety inspection from an OSHA inspector.
- Request and review copies of your workplace’s illness and injury log and review related records.
- Get copies of any testing done to determine the existence of workplace hazards.
- You may file a complaint with OSHA about a hazardous workplace condition.
Additional Information about the OSH Act
After you file a complaint with OSHA, the agency will decide whether it needs to come on-site and inspect the facility. (Note that someone else may file a complaint on your behalf, including a family member.) You also have a right to speak privately with the OSHA inspector both before and after the inspection, and a worker representative may accompany the inspector during the inspection process.
In meeting their responsibility to provide a safe work environment, maritime and other employers must:
- Use posters, signs and/or labels to warn employees of hazardous conditions.
- Examine workplace conditions to make sure they comply with federal standards.
- Post, in a prominent location, information about workers’ rights and responsibilities under OSHA.
- If the employer has been cited by OSHA they must post that citation near the affected work area until the violation has been corrected.
- Establish, update and maintain operating procedures to meet safety and health requirements and then communicate those procedures to workers.
If you suspect that your maritime employer has violated any of these responsibilities or has violated your right to a safe work environment, contact an experienced attorney.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
Contact Patrick Yancey Law Firm today for a free consultation if you are an injured seaman or maritime worker. Our experienced attorneys will help you understand your rights under federal and state law, and we will help you recover compensation for your injuries, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.