There are some occupations that are riskier than others just by nature, or ones that put people in danger more frequently than others. Working with hazardous materials or heavy machinery, for instance, increases the risk of injury at work compared to desk occupations. However, even in positions that employees choose knowing they carry some level of danger, they can still refuse to perform specific tasks if their employers fail to give them the necessary safeguards to complete the job safely.
Read on to learn more and then contact PLBSH at (800) 435-7542 if you are in need of a free legal consultation with an employment law attorney.
Conditions required to legally refuse to perform dangerous work
If all of the following conditions are satisfied, workers have the legal right to refuse to perform hazardous occupations that obviously provide a risk of death or significant physical harm, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA.
- A reasonable person would agree that there is a real danger of death or serious injury
- There isn’t enough time to get it corrected through regular enforcement channels
- You refused to work in good faith, which means that you genuinely believed that an imminent danger existed
- You asked your employer to eliminate the hazard and they did not
If you find yourself in this circumstance, such as being requested to enter an unsafely reinforced excavated trench, you should ask your employer to make the necessary repairs or find you alternative work. Inform your employer that you won’t perform the task unless the hazard is removed, and stay on the job site until your employer asks you to leave.
What is likely to happen if you refuse to do the work?
Employees who assert their rights in front of their employers may face reprisals for doing so. Employees may want to speak with a skilled employment retaliation attorney in that situation. In such cases, one alternative is to complain about the employer to OSHA.
OSHA complaints need to be submitted within 30 days of the purported retaliation. If you want to protect your rights and seek compensation for the harm you have endured as a result of exercising your legal right to refuse dangerous work, you should speak with an employment retaliation attorney to see if this is the best course of action. If not, there may be other options available to you.
At PLBSH, our attorneys are knowledgeable on the law surrounding workplace retaliation, including retaliation against whistleblowers and reprisal based on claims of discrimination. We will stay by your side throughout the process and fight for you and your rights. To make an initial meeting and learn more about how we may assist you if you have experienced retaliation at work, get in touch with us right away at (800) 435-7542.