Dangerous Conditions At Work Lawyers
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Can I Refuse Work Based on Dangerous Conditions?
Generally, your employer can take action against you if you refuse to work. However, if you object to working because you believe in good faith that your workplace exposes you to an imminent danger, you might be protected from termination by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
What is an Imminent Danger?
OSHA outlines several situations which may be considered imminently dangerous. An imminent threat must be so immediate that the employee believes death or serious physical harm could occur within a short time. The employee must hold a good faith concern that her work presents:
- A threat of death or serious physical harm; and
- A reasonable expectation that toxic substances or other health hazards, such as unneccessarily and extremely loud noises that can cause occupational deafness, are present and exposure to them are life threatening or will cause physical or mental harm (which do not have to be imminent), if the employee's concern is a health hazard.
Should I Quit Immediately?
As an employee, you generally do not have the right to terminate your employment based on an unsafe situation. If you refuse work and you are subsequently fired or disciplined by your employer, you may not have the option of filing a valid complaint. Therefore, your legal rights may be better protected if you remain on the job until the problem is resolved.
Who Can I Contact For Help?
In addition to talking with a lawyer about your employment environment, you may also consider filing a complaint with OSHA. Furthermore, if you are a member of a union, you may be entitled to further benefits and should discuss your concern with the union representative.
How Will I Be Protected?
If OSHA finds your workstation to be problematic, it has the ability to ask a federal court to demand that your employer improve safety conditions. Additionally, you are protected under OSHA regulations if you refuse to perform a job and you have met each of the following four rules:
- You asked the employer to eliminate the danger, and it failed to do so;
- You refused to work in "good faith," meaning that you genuinely believed that an imminent danger existed (and was not an attempt to bother your employer or disturb business);
- A reasonable person would agree that there was a serious possibility of death or serious injury; and
- Insufficient time existed, due to the urgency of the hazard, to correct the problem through standard enforcement (such as requesting an OSHA inspection).
Do I Need an Employment Lawyer?
If you are concerned about your health and safety in your workplace, you should contact an employment lawyer. Additionally, an attorney can inform you of your rights and options if you have left your job because of dangerous work conditions.
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Last Modified: 10-14-2015 04:07 PM PDT
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