Worker Rights

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify worker rights under the OSH Act

Worker rights under the OSH Act are summarized in the OSHA poster (see Figure 1), which employers are required to post in a prominent location in the workplace. The poster is available in 12 languages, including Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. OSHA regulations do not specify or require employers to display the OSHA poster in a foreign language. However, posting a version or versions that reflect the employee language mix is a recommended practice.

Thumbnail version of an OSHA poster.

Figure 1. Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law (Click on this image to view the full PDF.)

In brief, the OSH Act establishes that workers have a fundamental right to a safe workplace. That right includes the right to voice a safety or health concern, to report a work-related injury or illness and view medical records. The Act also provides for protection from retaliation for expressing a concern or reporting an injury or illness. OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program investigates claims of retaliation and enforces protections for employees for engaging in protected activities.” OSHA investigators handle allegations of retaliation from private sector and U.S. Postal Service employees. Federal employees are covered by environmental statutes and each agency is required to establish procedures to protect employees from “retaliation for reporting unsafe or unhealthful working conditions, or for otherwise engaging in safety or health activities.”[1] Similarly, public sector employees should report safety or health hazards to their respective agency’s Designated Agency Safety and Health Officer (DASHO).


Federal government agencies are required to post the Federal Agency poster, which is available as a Word doc to allow individuals agencies to customize it with their logos and other identifying information.

In addition to the rights listed on the OSHA poster, employees have the right to the following:[2]

  • Be trained in a language you understand
  • Work on machines that are safe
  • Be provided required safety gear, such as gloves or a harness and lifeline for falls
  • Be protected from toxic chemicals
  • Request an OSHA inspection, and speak to the inspector
  • See copies of the workplace injury and illness log
  • Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses
  • Receive copies of test results done to find hazards in the workplace

Learn More

OSHA also has a Frequently Asked Questions on their Worker Rights and Protections page.

Practice Question

  1. "Whistle Blower Protection." Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor. Accessed August 20, 2019.
  2. "OSHA Worker Rights and Protections." Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor. Accessed August 20, 2019.