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Employees rights and Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act

Workers in industrial settings are among employees with the highest risk of suffering permanent disability, catastrophic illness or death, just given the sheer presence of heavy duty machinery and chemicals they surround themselves with on a daily basis. In this type environment, pressure is kept high to produce, and for some companies, that pressure means employees are forced to operate within unsafe work conditions.

Despite laws on the books that prohibit an employer from retaliating against its workers who report and decline work based on safety concerns, unfortunately, many employers fail to acknowledge this is the case, taking advantage of the ignorance of their employees. Those workers who are informed comprise the many cases that are brought in front of Michigan's Employee Discrimination Section routinely regarding this exact issue.

Under Act 154 of Public Acts of 1974 and its amended Section 65, this Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act establishes that employees are protected from being discriminated against "for reporting or voicing unsafe or unhealthy work conditions]". It also protects those employees who render assistance to any MIOSHA representative during an inspection/investigation as well.

When it comes to being subject to working under potentially dangerous situations, MIOSHA laws also protect an employee who refuses to work if he or she deems the situation to pose some sore of "imminent danger." These situations, including those that may threaten an employee's life, cause permanent disability or chronic or irreversible illness.

State law allows those who believe that their employer has violated these laws to report the alleged discrimination within 30 days of the incident occurring. If you believe that your employee rights have been violated as a result of being unwilling to participate if potentially life-threatening work due to an unsafe work environment, you may find the advice and guidance of an attorney beneficial.

Source: LARA- Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, "Employee discrimination section," State of Michigan, accessed Dec. 30, 2016

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