Defending Yourself Against Dangerous Working Conditions

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Employers are required by federal and state legislation to create a safe workplace. If a person encounters unsafe working conditions, he or she may report the violation to the employer, the federal and/or state Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and, in some cases, refuse to work. The following is a summary of OSHA protection and guidelines for dealing with hazardous workplace conditions in the USA.

What Exactly Is OSHA?

The Occupational Safety and Health Act is a federal law that compels businesses to keep their workplaces free of hazardous health and safety situations that can lead to disease, injury, or death. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is in charge of enforcing the act and establishing safety standards.

OSHA applies to private firms who do business beyond state lines. This includes conducting business through the United States Postal Service or phone calls to other states.

OSHA’s goal is to safeguard workers (excluding independent contractors) from the following hazards:

  • Only-occurring injuries
  • Illnesses brought on by hazardous working circumstances
  • Recognized dangers that could result in death or serious injury

Employers must follow workplace safety rules in order to safeguard workers from hazardous working circumstances. 

Employers are required to:

  • Maintain a workplace free of health and safety hazards that could result in death or serious injury.
  • Post a job safety notice from OSHA in the workplace.
  • Keep track of any injuries, deaths, or exposure to hazardous materials.
  • If necessary, provide safety instruction.
  • OSHA safety requirements include provisions for hazardous chemical storage, equipment maintenance, fire prevention, eye protection, and protective apparel.

What to Do When a Safety Hazard Poses a Serious Risk

When unsafe working conditions endanger a worker’s life, the worker must report the dangerous condition to OSHA. The worker also has the right to refuse to work if any of the following conditions exist:

  • There is a reasonable and good faith perception that a workplace condition poses an immediate and significant danger of serious physical injury or death.
  • The hazardous condition will not be repaired by the employer.
  • Because of the immediacy of the hazard, there is insufficient time to notify the condition to OSHA or the appropriate state agency.
  • The employee lacked a viable alternative.
  • The employee may refuse to return to work until the employer removes the hazard or investigates and decides that there is no imminent danger.

What Should You Do When a Safety Hazard Doesn’t Present an Imminent Danger?

If a risky condition does not pose an immediate threat, the employee should notify the employer in writing of the concern. If the employer fails to remedy the situation, the employee may file a complaint with OSHA or the applicable state occupational safety agency.

OSHA standards, as well as numerous state laws, prevent employers from retaliating against employees who report violations. This means that an employer may not terminate, demote, or lower a worker’s wages just because the worker complained about harmful working circumstances. OSHA’s conclusion of employer retaliation may result in the worker’s return to their old employment as well as an order for compensation for lost pay.

Seek Legal Counsel to Protect Yourself from Dangerous Working Conditions

If you are working in hazardous conditions or have been wounded on the job, you may benefit from the advice of a legal specialist. An Alabama workers comp attorney can help you identify your rights and decide whether you should sue or negotiate with your company. Contact a local employment attorney and let them help you find a better, safer job.

March 21, 2022 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Posted in: Uncategorized