My Work Environment is Unsafe – What Should I Do?

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.

Employer Retaliation

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.

Workplace Safety Tips for Employers

If you are an employer, you can protect your workers and dramatically reduce your liability by following the tips below:

  • Establish a company safety policy and post it for all employees to see
  • Hold regular health and safety meetings
  • Follow established health and safety rules
  • Request a complimentary OSHA consultation
  • Familiarize yourself with industry hazards
  • Create safety teams
  • Develop a hazard reporting system
  • Encourage employees to report hazardous conditions
  • Conduct regular worksite inspections
  • Resolve any identified hazards
  • Regularly maintain equipment
  • Train employees on safe work procedures
  • Ensure that workers are properly trained on the use of personal protective equipment
  • Train workers to recognize hazards

Investing in a solid safety plan, training program, regular equipment maintenance, and consultations with safety experts may seem like an unnecessary expense. But failing to do so will likely cost you significantly more in the long run.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Work Injury Lawyers Serving Boston and the Surrounding Areas

If you have been injured in any type of work-related accident, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of MA workers for more than 50 years. Although most work injuries are covered by workers’ comp, even minor application errors can result in delayed or reduced benefits. More importantly, if negligence played a role in your injuries, you may be entitled to additional compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, and more. Don’t go through this difficult time alone. Our experienced work injury lawyers have an impressive track record of obtaining compensation for our clients. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.


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