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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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