In 1970, the Occupational Safety & Health Act was passed by the federal government to protect private employers and employees in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. Practically every industry has protections for health and safety. Although self-employed people, domestic workers in private homes and government employees are not covered by the OSH Act, most workers are.
One very important feature of the OSH Act is that it protects employees regardless of immigration status.
What protections does the OSH Act provide?
The main part of the OSH Act is that employers have a duty to provide a workplace that is reasonably safe for employees. Employers must provide information to employees about their rights, as well as information about health and safety in the workplace. Under the Act, employees also have the right to file a complaint with OSHA about safety and health conditions, and employees have the right to keep their identities confidential. Employees are also protected from retaliation by employers.
Latino immigrant workers have a higher rate of workplace fatalities than the rate for all workers combined.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the workplace fatality rate for Latino immigrants to the U.S. is 5.9 per 100,000. That is nearly 50 percent higher than the rate for workers in general.
If there is a safety problem in your workplace, you can make a complaint with OSHA, either online or at a regional office. However, if you suffered an injury on the job, regardless of your immigration status, you should have your medical bills and lost wages covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.
If you have immigration concerns after a workplace accident, discuss your situation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.