As state governments begin tackling their budgets, many face the sobering realization that their financial wells have gone dry. Even areas less affected by the recession are feeling the pinch as too many years of shrinking tax revenue, investment losses and increased demand for services have taken their toll. As a result, many states are looking for ways to cut costs and increase state and business revenue. Some services on the chopping block include education, safety works, and health services. For workers, a particularly troubling trend includes proposals for changes to workers compensation that, while claiming to save governments and businesses money, could potentially cost workers.
The adoption of the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970 allowed for the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The function of OSHA is to reduce hazards for workers in the United States in part through the creation of required safety standards in the workplace. Today, many employers are required to adopt either OSHA’s safety standards or state-created standards that are approved and monitored by OSHA. Ideally, employers diligently comply with these standards voluntarily. However, OSHA recognizes that at times it is necessary for employees to report noncompliance and potential hazards in their workplace. In order to better educate employees on protecting their rights, OSHA created the handbook “Employee Workplace Rights”. While OSHA provides many regulations which protect worker safety, this handbook highlights two of the most vital rights an employee has -- the right to information and the right to promote safety.