Health and Safety on the Job
Safety standards of the workplace are set in the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). There may be similar laws in your state that describe your rights if your workplace is hazardous. The law is different depending on the seriousness of the hazard in your workplace.
Hazards Posing an Imminent Danger
If your life is in imminent danger because of the hazard you have the right to refuse to work. Call OSHA at 800-321-OSHA to report the hazard, or in the event of a dire emergency, call 911.
What is an Imminent Danger?
- You have the belief that your workplace poses a danger of death or serious physical injury.
- Your employer refuses to correct the problem.
- An OSHA inspection will not be an appropriate and/or speedy enough remedy to the danger.
Contact your state labor department to find out if your state allows other reasons for refusal to report to work.
You Are Not in Imminent Danger
If there is no immediate danger, you should still report the situation to your supervisor. Document your report, i.e., make the report in writing and keep a copy, or make a note to yourself the time and date you made the request, the name of the person to whom you made it, and a summary of what was said by you and the other person. If for some reason you are afraid of your employer, you may make your report directly to OSHA.
If nothing is done, or worse, your employer retaliates against you for complaining, you should contact OSHA. It is possible to make an anonymous complaint. It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you if you rightfully refuse to work due to OSHA violations.
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Last Modified: 04-20-2011 11:53 AM PDT
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