workers’ health and safety rights
Health Care law

What Are The Workers’ Health And Safety Rights? The Legal Guide

| October 12, 2022 | Last Updated on: December 14, 2023

Workers are the priority of every nation. The workforce is the reason that a country has an economy that can keep up with the international market. 

The most important one on the list, the Occupational Safety And Health Act, a primary organ of workers’ health and safety rights was passed in the year 1970. It is the primary federal law of the land governing the health and safety standards of workers. 

The Act gained legal recognition when signed into law by President Nixon. Its main aim is to ensure that workers of the nation do not have to work in challenging conditions that pose health and safety risks.

The Right To Occupational Health And Safety

The Right To Occupational Health And Safety

The World Health Organization states that one’s right to health and safety in the workplace is of utmost importance. It is also our right to achieve the highest standard of health and safety conditions as is possible under normal circumstances. 

United Nations has also stressed the importance of one’s right to work in safe environments through workers’ health and safety rights. 

Universal Declaration Of Human Rights – Article 23 

Universal Declaration Of Human Rights - Article 23 

Article 23 of the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights states that all human beings have the right to choose their work and pay options as well as to continue work under favorable conditions. It is not humanly possible to work in a condition that is bound to cause adverse effects on health. Thus, to make sure that productivity and health are both on track, successful execution of Article 23 is required. 

The International Labour Organization

The International Labour Organization
Image Source

ILO is a branch of the United Nations that takes care of working conditions around the world and workers’ health and safety rights. It establishes provisions that guarantee the basic human rights of individuals. 

The Preamble to the International Labour Organization states that every worker has the right to protect themself against sickness, injury, or disease that arises as a result of the health and safety conditions of a workplace. This is considered to be required for the protection of Universal peace that is everlasting. 

Article 13 Of The United Nations Charter

Article 13 Of The United Nations Charter

The United Nations Charter states that all contracting parties to employment should aim to promote economic, political, and social betterment and protect workers’ health and safety rights. 

Better living standards are the key to that. Work and occupational safety standards including the promotion of human rights protection are the way to achieve that. 

International Covenant On Economic, Social, And Cultural Rights

Article 7 of the Covenant provides insight into what one’s right to just and favorable work conditions means. Wages and working hours are the primary aspects.

International Covenant On Economic, Social, And Cultural Rights- Article 12

International Covenant On Economic, Social, And Cultural Rights

Article 12 of the Covenant lays down clear laws as to industrial hygiene. It says that the concept of overall well-being should include healthy work and occupational conditions and protect workers’ health and safety rights. 

Article 12 states that:

All states that are parties to the Covenant recognize that everyone has the right to enjoy the highest standard that is attainable regarding health, be it mental or physical. The parties to the covenant shall work for the following.

  • The improvement of industrial hygiene as well as environmental hygiene. 
  • Preventing, treating, and controlling epidemics, endemics, as well as  diseases caused as a result of occupational hazard 

Occupational Health And Safety Act 

The Act guarantees three basic fundamental rights under it. They are as follows.

1. The Right To Know

The Right To Know

Section 9 of the Occupational Health And Safety Act states that it is completely the employer’s responsibility to provide as much knowledge and training to the employee to make sure that their health stays protected. Any information is subjective. They vary from workplace to workplace. The information provided can be in the form of brochures, flyers, cards, and audio-visual presentations, but it should convey the message properly.

Training is to be provided by experienced professionals. It can either be provided by people from the organization or people hired to do the job from outside the organization. The employers can provide training on the following requirements.

  • Hazards that one comes across during inspections conducted daily, or monthly. 
  • Regular inspections are conducted of the entire facility as well as pre-work ones where a detailed inspection of the tools is made.
  • Policies that further safety and other work-related procedures can make it easier for employees to have a productive day while also maintaining safety standards.
  • Drills and other practices are conducted and govern emergency procedures such as evacuation during earthquakes and fires, first aid procedures, and so on. 

2. The Right To Participate

The Right To Participate

This provision calls for the employees to participate in the decision-making process as well as in activities that affect their healt5h and safety in their workplaces. Every employee should be able to provide input on what practices will promote the health and safety of the individuals in their workplaces. 

The employees can send their representatives to speak up on their problems as and when called upon. An individual can also report incidents in which they come across possible threats to their health and safety in their workplaces. One might also report incidents where the health and safety of a coworker are at risk. 

It is the duty of the employer to take note of these issues and take necessary action. This is one of the guidelines mentioned in the Act, that is to be strictly adhered to. 

3. The Right To Refuse

The Right To Refuse

One can use the right to refuse when the aforementioned two rights are not quite serving the purpose. Under this right, one must first let the management or the people in charge know about their problems related to health and safety.

 If the management does not tackle proper action, one can approach a work safety officer. The work safety officer will then decide what is to happen next. Such an officer can advise you to stop working till the issue is resolved. 

What Are The Workers’ Health And Safety Rights In US? 

In the grand theater of the American workforce, the safety and well-being of employees take center stage. As we embark on a journey through the intricacies of labor, let’s uncover the empowering rhythm of workers’ health and safety rights in the United States—a dance that ensures every worker’s right to a safe and secure professional stage.

1. The Overture: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 

The melody begins with OSHA, the guardian of workplace safety. This federal agency orchestrates a symphony of regulations and standards aimed at ensuring that every workplace in the United States adheres to a stringent set of health and safety measures.

2. The Right to a Safe Workplace: 

At the heart of this dance is the fundamental right to a safe workplace. Every employee, regardless of the industry, has the right to work in an environment free from recognized hazards. It’s the ballet of basic safety that forms the foundation of the worker’s experience.

3. The Right to Information: 

In the transparency waltz, workers are entitled to information. Employers must communicate potential hazards, provide access to safety data sheets, and ensure that employees are well-informed about the risks associated with their roles. It’s a dance of enlightenment for a safer workplace.

4. The Right to Training: 

The skillful tango of worker safety involves the right to training. Employees have the right to receive training on potential workplace hazards, safe work practices, and emergency procedures. It’s a dance that equips the workforce with the skills to navigate the complexities of their roles safely.

5. The Right to Protective Gear:

In the armor of safety, workers have the right to protective gear. Whether it’s helmets, gloves, or specialized equipment, employers must provide and ensure the proper use of protective gear to shield workers from potential harm—a dance of defense against workplace hazards.

6. The Right to Report Hazards: 

Enter the courageous salsa of workers’ rights—the right to report hazards. Employees are encouraged to speak up and report unsafe conditions without fear of retaliation. It’s a bold dance that ensures a collective effort to maintain a secure and healthy workplace.

7. The Right to Medical Records: 

In the empathetic rhapsody, workers hold the right to access their medical records related to workplace exposure. This dance ensures that employees can monitor their health in connection with workplace conditions—a melody that resonates with the importance of individual well-being.

8. The Right to Refuse Unsafe Work: 

In the assertive foxtrot, workers can refuse unsafe work without facing repercussions. This right empowers employees to take a stand when they believe their work conditions pose an imminent danger. It’s a dance that places the well-being of the worker above all.

And That’s A Wrap

The workers’ health and safety rights mostly guarantee the following.

  • Provisions on minimum wage, payment for overtime, and also maintenance of payroll records. 
  • Issuing a Notice of dismissal is considered mandatory under health and safety laws.
  • The employment rights of foreign workers should also be considered under health and safety laws. 
  • There should be designated rest periods that allow workers to rest after their working hours are over. 
  • Any worker is also entitled to paid leaves, public holidays, and vacation pay.

Do let us know if you found the article informative!

Let us know your doubts and questions in the comment section below!

Read Also:

Spread the love

Susmita Sen
Susmita Sen

Susmita Sen has started his journey in the Digital Marketing field. She has more than 1 year of experience in SEO. She likes to share her thoughts for the Website’s achievement goal. She is so passionate about bright career in this ways. Susmita has interest about travelling, cooking in various dishes, reading books about human psychology, and listening to music.


2 Replies to “What Are The Workers’ Health And Safety Rights? The Legal Guide”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *