If your employer does not provide safety gear, you have the right to refuse to do dangerous work
There are certain jobs that are just inherently dangerous, or positions that put people in harm’s way more often than other positions. For example, people who work with heavy equipment or with toxic chemicals are more likely to be hurt at work than those who have desk jobs. However, even in jobs that workers take on knowing it involves some element of risk, they can still refuse to do certain work if their employers fail to provide them with the appropriate protections to do the job safely.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, commonly known as OSHA, workers have a legal right to refuse to do dangerous tasks that clearly present a risk of death or serious physical harm if all of the following conditions are met:
- Whenever possible, you have asked the employer to eliminate the danger, and the employer failed to do so; AND
- You refused to work and good faith, which means that you genuinely believed that an imminent danger existed; AND
- A reasonable person would agree that there is a real danger of death or serious injury; AND
- There isn’t enough time to get it corrected through regular enforcement channels.
If you find yourself facing this situation — for example, if you are asked to get into an excavated trench that hasn’t been properly reinforced and is in danger of collapsing — you should ask your employer to correct the hazard or give you other work. Tell your employer that you will not do the work unless the hazard is corrected, and remain at the job site until ordered to leave by your employer.
Employers confronted by employees exercising their rights may retaliate against them for doing so. In that case, employees may wish to consult with an experienced employment retaliation lawyer. Filing a complaint with OSHA against the employer is one option in these situations. OSHA complaints must be filed within 30 days of the alleged retaliation. Talking to an employment retaliation lawyer can help you determine if this is the best course of action, or if there are other avenues to protect your rights and recover damages for the harm that you have suffered for asserting your legal right to refuse to do dangerous work.
At PLBSH, our attorneys understand the law related to retaliation in the workplace, whether it relates to whistleblower retaliation or retaliation based on complaints of discrimination. We will fight for you and your rights, and will stand by your side throughout the process. Contact us today at (800) 435-7542 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an initial appointment and learn more about how we can help you if you have been subjected to retaliation in your place of work.