In 1970, the United States Department of Labor enacted the Occupational Safety and Health Act and established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to protect the rights and safety of American workers. OSHA provides education and training to employers to help them establish safe working conditions. OSHA also conducts inspections and enforces standards for safety.
If you find that you are working in unsafe or substandard conditions, you have the right to demand your employer corrects these conditions, file a complaint with OSHA, and possibly refuse to continue working. If you are injured at work, you may consult an attorney familiar with workplace injury law.
What should I do if my working environment is unsafe?
If possible, first alert your employer to the situation and demand that the unsafe conditions be remedied. If your employer refuses to cooperate, your next step would be to file a claim with OSHA. The OSHA website offers instructions for filing a claim either online, via fax or mail, or over the telephone.
If you’re hurt because of the unsafe environment, you may contact an attorney who can help you explore your legal options.
Can I refuse to work if the workplace is unsafe?
In cases where the conditions create the threat of death or serious injury, it may be appropriate to refuse to work until the employer corrects the conditions. If your employer has been notified and denies responsibility or refuses to take action and there is not enough time for OSHA to inspect the premises, refusal to work may be legally justified. Be sure to contact OSHA immediately in this case.
You may want to consider refusing to work until the conditions are improved If the following criteria exist and you have exhausted communication efforts with your employer:
- you genuinely believe you are in immediate physical danger in your present working conditions;
- another reasonable person would agree with your assessment of the unsafe working conditions – consider asking coworkers or others for statements or to be witnesses; and/or
- your employer has failed to remedy the situation after you have notified him or her of the conditions.
If you feel your scenario meets these requirements, you can refuse to work until the conditions are rectified. Do not leave the workplace unless ordered to do so by the employer, but notify OSHA and remain in a safe area.
What if my employer retaliates?
By law, your employer cannot penalize you for reporting a claim to OSHA or refusing to work in imminently dangerous conditions. If your employer threatens you in any of these situations, contact OSHA immediately.
Cordisco & Saile LLC Can Help if You’re Injured
If you suffer an injury while at work – whether because of an unsafe working environment or not – you may be entitled to file a claim for workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania. Cordisco & Saile LLC can help. Call us today to set up a consultation to discuss your case with an attorney: 215-642-2335.