When you’re in the middle of a dangerous situation, it can be difficult to know exactly what to do. An important part of safety is being prepared to take the proper steps when things do inevitably go wrong, especially when you work in an industry with elevated risks for danger. If you are in a dangerous situation, you should always put your safety first. If a situation seems dangerous, it’s possible that it is even more dangerous than you might think, and it is always best to avoid injury if possible.
As a worker, you have a responsibility and a right to report any imminent safety hazards to OSHA. However, OSHA may not be able to address the issue before you are suppose d to return to work. Under the law, you have the right to refuse to work if your situation meets one or more conditions. Generally, if your employer will not fix the dangerous issue or cannot do so immediately, you can legally refuse to work under those circumstances.
You may also refuse to return to an unsafe workplace if there is not time for OSHA or another regulatory agency to hear your complaint, or if you have no other alternative that is safe. In many cases, a certain worksite or process may be dangerous, but there may be other work you can perform for your employer, which is preferable if available.
If you believe that your workplace is unsafe, and especially if your employer is refusing to address the issue in a timely manner, do not hesitate to contact an experienced attorney. With the guidance of an experienced attorney, you can ensure that your rights and safety remain protected and prioritized.
Source: FindLaw, “Protecting Yourself from Unsafe Working Conditions,” accessed March 16, 2017