Rights and Responsibilities

Employee Rights and Responsibilities

As a worker, you have a legal right to:

  • A safe and healthful workplace
  • Any information your employer has about any exposure you may have had to hazards such as toxic chemicals or noise. You also have a right to any medical records your employer has concerning you.
  • To ask your employer to correct dangerous conditions.
  • To file a complaint about workplace hazards:
    • Private sector workers - In Maine call OSHA at 207-626-9160
    • Maine Public Sector Workers - Call the Bureau of Labor Standards of the Maine Department of Labor at 207-623-7900
  • To participate in enforcement inspections.
  • To not be discriminated against for exercising your health and safety rights. Your employer may not fire you, threaten you, harass you, or treat you differently for exercising your health and safety rights.
  • To refuse work that puts you in immediate danger of serious harm. Before you refuse unsafe work, request that your employer eliminate the hazard and make it clear that you will accept an alternate assignment. The OSHA regulation only protects you if the danger can be proven to exist; if you refuse to work because you believe a condition is hazardous, but are proved wrong, OSHA does not protect you.
  • To information on hazards in your workplace; chemicals used in your workplace; tests your employer has done to measure chemical, noise and radiation levels; and what to do if you or other employees are involved in an incident or are exposed to other toxic substances.
  • To information from your employer about OSHA standards, worker injuries and illnesses, job hazards and workers' rights.
  • To training from your employer
    • on chemicals you are exposed to during your work and information on how to protect yourself from harm.
    • on other health and safety hazards and standards that your employer must follow.

As a worker, it is your responsibility to:

  • Read the workplace safety and health poster at the jobsite.
  • Comply with all applicable OSHA and Maine safety standards.
  • Follow all lawful employer safety and health rules and regulations, and wear or use required protective equipment while working.
  • Report hazardous conditions to the employer
  • Report any job-related injury or illness to the employer, and seek treatment promptly.

The Maine Employee Rights Guide describes other work-related rights of workers in Maine.

Employer Responsibilities

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and Maine law, employers must:

  • Provide a workplace free from serious hazards
  • Comply with OSHA standards
  • Make sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment. Properly maintain this equipment.
  • Use color codes, posters, labels or signs to warn employees of potential hazards.
  • Establish or update operating procedures and communicate them so that employees follow safety and health requirements.
  • Provide medical examinations and training when required by OSHA standards. Post where employees can see it the OSHA Poster (private companies) or the State of Maine Occupational Safety and Health Poster (public sector employers) informing employees of their rights and responsibilities.
  • Report hospitalizations and fatalities promptly:
    • Private Sector: to the local OSHA office (780-3178) within 8 hours of any accident that is fatal or that results in the hospitalization of three or more employees.
    • Maine Public Sector: to the Bureau of Labor Standards Workplace Safety and Health Division within 24 hours if an injured worker has an overnight hospital stay and within 8 hours in case of a death. Weekdays (except state holidays) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. call 624-6400. At other times, fax to 624-6449 or call on pager 750-1852.
  • Keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses and post these records. (Note: Private sector employers with 10 or fewer employees and employers in certain low-hazard industries are exempt from this requirement.)
  • Provide employees, former employees and their representatives access to the Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses.
  • Provide access to employee medical records and exposure records to employees or their authorized representatives.
  • Not discriminate against employees who exercise their safety and health rights.
  • Post citations at or near the work area involved. Each citation must remain posted until the violation has been corrected, or for three working days, whichever is longer. Post abatement verification documents or tags.
  • Correct cited violations by the deadline set in the citation and submit required abatement verification documentation