What Are My Employee Rights Under OSHA?

What Are My Employee Rights Under OSHA?

OSHA stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) and is designed, “To assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women; by authorizing enforcement of the standards developed under the Act; by assisting and encouraging the States in their efforts to assure safe and healthful working conditions; by providing for research, information, education, and training in the field of occupational safety and health...”

Read on to learn more about employee rights under OSHA.

Who Is Covered Under OSHA?

The following employees are covered under OSHA guidelines:

  • Private sector workers
  • State and local government workers
  • Federal government workers

It’s important to keep in mind that although employees who work for state and local governments aren’t necessarily covered under Federal OSHA, California employees are protected under the OSHA-approved state plan.

Who Is Not Covered Under OSHA?

The following workers are not covered under Federal OSHA guidelines:

  • Self-employed
  • Immediate family members of farm employers
  • Workplace hazards regulated by another federal agency (for instance, the Coast Guard)


California’s OSHA state-plan is known as The Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), but is commonly referred to as Cal/OSHA.

DOSH “protects and improves the health and safety of working men and women in California and the safety of passengers riding on elevators, amusement rides, and tramways – through the following activities:

  • Setting and enforcing standards
  • Providing outreach, education, and assistance
  • Issuing permits, licenses, certifications, registrations, and approvals

You Have The Right to Refuse Hazardous Work

It’s unlawful for your employer to retaliate against you for refusing to carry out hazardous work if both of the following are true:

  • Executing the work would infringe upon Cal/OSHA health or safety regulations.
  • The infringement would prompt a “real and apparent hazard” to you or your colleagues.

When the above elements are present, you may utilize your right to refuse to carry out the work. However, before you decide to reject the work, do the following:

  • Make your supervisor aware of the hazard and request that it be reformed.
  • Illustrate that you’re happy to keep working as long as the hazard is reformed or you are provided with other work that is safe.
  • Let your employer know that you think a health or safety regulation is being disregarded.
  • If you have one, contact your union shop steward.

If you believe your employee rights have been violated, our attorneys are here to help. At Polaris Law Group, we have helped countless others handle their employment law needs, and we can help you, too. Don’t hesitate to contact our office with any questions you have right away!

Contact our Monterey County employment law attorney today at (888) 796-4010 to schedule a consultation!