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What if Your Boss Won’t Address a Dangerous Condition at Work?

March 22, 2012
Colson Hicks Eidson

Our blogs this week discussed the inherent dangers present on construction sites. Have you ever encountered a potentially dangerous condition at your workplace, even if you do not work at a construction site? According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), there are rules that allow you to refuse to work in a dangerous environment if you meet all of the requirements.
If you encounter a potentially harmful or deadly condition at work, the first thing you should do is report it to your employer. You can also file a report with OSHA, but if the danger is immediate, OSHA will not have time to investigate. If this is the case, you can refuse to work if you do all of the following:

  • You asked your employer to address and eliminate the workplace danger and your employer failed to do so
  • You are refusing to work in good faith, meaning you must genuinely believe that there is an imminent danger present
  • A reasonable person would agree that there is a danger of serious injury or death
  • There is not enough time to correct the condition through normal channels, such as an OSHA inspection

If you satisfy all of the above, the DOL says you can:

  • Ask your employer to correct the hazard, or to assign other work;
  • Tell your employer that you won’t perform the work unless and until the hazard is corrected; and
  • Remain at the worksite until ordered to leave by your employer.

Finally yet importantly, your employer cannot retaliate against you if you follow the above requirements. Is there a dangerous or deadly condition where you work?