What Are My Rights as a Construction Worker in Tennessee?
Posted in Workers' compensation on September 5, 2018
Construction is a prominent job market in Nashville. Thousands of construction workers clock in every day in Tennessee, expecting a typical day’s work. Sadly, not all workers will get to clock out. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 991 construction workers died on the job in the U.S. in 2016. Many others suffered serious injuries from job-related risks and health hazards. A major part of being a construction worker in Tennessee is knowing your rights and learning how to protect them in the event of an accident. If you sustained an injury on a construction site in Tennessee, reach our to our Nashville personal injury attorneys for a free case consultation.
The Right to a Reasonably Safe Work Environment
Among the list of workers’ rights in the U.S. is the “right to a safe and healthful workplace.” The General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act states that employers are responsible for providing workplaces that are safe, healthful, and free from major hazards. The responsibilities involved in this duty depend on the industry, worksite, and type of work. Standards are in place regarding employee exposure to hazardous chemicals, noise levels, equipment, and other common health and safety risks. Breaching these standards greatly increases workers’ risk of injury.
The Right to Review Rules and Regulations
It is your right as a Tennessee construction worker to request to review the rules, regulations, and standards your employer has in place. Your employer should have this information readily available to employees upon request. Employers must legally keep copies of this information at the workplace. It is your responsibility to review this information, compare it to OSHA requirements, and take notice of anything questionable or amiss. You also have the right to bring up any red flags you might find to your employer and/or OSHA without adverse consequences.
The Right to Report Hazards to OSHA Without Retaliation
If you see something dangerous in the workplace, say something. You could be integral in preventing a serious personal injury accident or death in the future. As a construction worker in Tennessee, it is your right to report your employer to OSHA without fear of retaliation. Retaliation is an illegal practice in which an employer demotes, fires, or otherwise punishes a worker for reporting health and safety violations.
As soon as you become aware of employer negligence or dangerous elements at your job, request an OSHA inspection. You have the right to do so without your employer taking any action against you. OSHA will come to your workplace and inspect for hazards, unnecessary risks, and breaches of expected standards of care. OSHA will make sure your employer provides a reasonably safe workplace and addresses any violations, making your workplace safer for everyone.
The Right to Fair Wages and Hours
Aside from a safe work environment, you also have the right to fair wages and hours in the state of Tennessee. Several state and federal laws preside over this topic, including Tennessee Code Title 50 and the Family & Medical Leave Act. Tennessee follows the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25. The prevailing wage, however, is $12 to $26. Federal law mandates overtime pay of at least time and a half for every hour over 40 hours per week. State law holds that employees must have a 30-minute break (paid or unpaid) when scheduled for six or more hours.
The Right to File a Claim in the Event of an Injury
If you do become the victim of an occupational injury or illness, you have the right to file a claim seeking recovery for your damages. You may file a Tennessee workers’ compensation claim and/or a personal injury claim. A personal injury lawsuit might be the right route if you have reason to believe your employer, a coworker, product manufacturer, or another party caused your incident through negligence. A personal injury claim in Tennessee can generally result in higher recovery amounts than workers’ compensation. Talk to an injury attorney to learn more about your rights as a construction worker in Tennessee.