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Does my right to know about dangers affect workers' compensation?

Certain workplaces can be riddled with hidden dangers. In Pennsylvania, workers have the right to know about hazardous or toxic substances that might be present in their workplace. However, being aware of certain hazards will not necessarily prevent a workplace accident, and as such has no affect on whether a person qualifies for workers' compensation.

While the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration already requires employers to inform workers of hazardous substances, the Pennsylvania Worker and Community Right to Know Act applies to workers who are not otherwise covered by OSHA. Under this act, employers who are not covered under OSHA must post a notice that informs employees of these rights. The notice may not be obscured or in a rarely visited place, and should be prominently located.

Employers are also required to provide necessary and adequate training for employees who work with hazardous materials. This can be done through training sessions or via written instructions. Simply telling an employee to watch out for a certain substance is not sufficient.

Employees also have the right to a comprehensive list of hazardous substances in the workplace. Employers must complete an annual form that provides a full inventory of all substances found within a workplace, which is available to all workers. More specific work area lists that detail substances found in a specific area of the workplace should also be available.

Adequate safety training is essential for the safety and well-being of Pennsylvania employees. While this can certainly minimize the risk of a workplace injury, some accidents are unavoidable. Those who have been injured as the result of a workplace accident can usually count on workers' compensation benefits to cover their medical costs and lost wages as they work towards the best recovery possible.

Source: dli.pa.gov, "EMPLOYEE WORKPLACE NOTICE PUBLIC SECTOR", Jan. 16, 2018

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