Employers are required – by federal law – to provide a safe workplace. If you are concerned that your workplace is unsafe or unhealthy, you have rights. In most cases, the first course of action is to report the hazard to your employer. If the employer is unable, or unwilling, to address the issue, you can contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the agency responsible for establishing and enforcing workplace safety guidelines, as well as investigating reports of violations.
OSHA protects workers from injuries, illnesses, and generally unsafe or hazardous working conditions. According to OSHA, employers must:
- provide a safe, healthy workplace,
- post the OSHA job safety notice somewhere in the workplace,
- record all injuries, hazardous material exposures, and deaths, and
- provide any necessary safety training.
Can I Refuse to Work?
Workers have the right to refuse to work if:
- they reasonably believe that a workplace hazard presents an immediate risk of serious injury or death,
- their employer fails to fix the condition,
- there is not enough time to report the condition to OSHA, and
- no reasonable alternative exists.
In all other cases, workers should first inform their employer of the concern in writing. Keep in mind that employers aren’t usually making the situation unsafe on purpose. In most cases, the negligence is unintentional. Speaking up may be the only thing you need to do to resolve the problem. If that doesn’t work, you may need to talk to an attorney. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a workplace accident.
Both OSHA and state laws protect workers who report violations from employer retaliation. Essentially, this means that a worker cannot be demoted or fired, or have their pay reduced, due to having filed a complaint about workplace safety violations. If employer retaliation occurs, the worker may have his or her former position reinstated, and he or she may receive back pay. A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident. Continue reading