If people work in the state of Massachusetts, or any other state for that matter, then they are likely protected by regulations created and enforced by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, also known as OSHA. This agency creates responsibilities that employers must abide by in order to ensure their workers are kept safe. Failure to do so could result in fines, but also significant harm to employees.
There are many things employers are required to do to ensure workplace safety. They are required to find and remedy all health and safety issues. This means if a worker is exposed to dangerous fumes, the employer has the obligation to try to find a way to reduce or eliminate that exposure, rather than simply requiring the employee to wear a mask.
Employers are also required to maintain full and accurate records about any injuries and illnesses that occur in the workplace. This helps OSHA assess workplace dangers and inform employers of how to fix them. Additionally, employers must conform to OSHA standards by testing air quality, providing mandated medical tests, posting OSHA injury data, informing OSHA of all work-related hospitalizations within 24 hours and agreeing not to retaliate against employees who act upon their legal rights.
An OSHA violation can put workers at a significant risk of harm. Therefore, an injured worker should consider acting on the person's legal rights by attempting to recover workers' compensation benefits. A successful claim may not only raise awareness of the person's employer's dangerous workplace environment, but it might also allow the individual to recover compensation for medical expenses and lost wages.
Source: Occupational Safety & Health Administration, "Employer Responsibilities," accessed on Apr. 11, 2015