For workers in all businesses, dangerous conditions can exist, but this does not mean that workers necessarily have to live with those dangerous conditions. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, asks employers to file a workplace complaint with them if they feel like there is a hazardous working condition. Though, they recommend bringing the hazardous working condition to the attention of management first. If they are upholding their duty to maintain a safe workplace, they will correct the hazard immediately.
What if management does not do anything and OSHA is taking too long?
If after seeking management’s and OSHA’s help, if the hazardous working condition remains, and the workplace is unhealthy or unsafe, it may be possible to legally refuse to work. Though, one should not leave a worksite simply because an OSHA complaint was filed. To stop work, the condition must clearly present a risk of serious physical harm or death, management has not acted and OSHA does not have time to inspect the condition. In this case, workers have a legal right to refuse to work to keep themselves safe from the hazard.
Details on one’s right of work refusal
The right to refuse is conditional on the following: First, the employee must have asked the employer to eliminate the danger, if possible, and the employer has not eliminated that danger. Second, the refusal to work must be in good faith, which means that the worker must genuinely believe that they are in imminent danger of serous injury or death, should the workplace danger continue. Third, a reasonable person would also believe that the workplace danger posed a danger of serious injury or death. Finally, there is not enough time to have the workplace danger eliminated through regular enforcement methods, like an OSHA inspection.
How to refuse to work
Step one document the hazard, and ask the Mundelein, Illinois, employer to fix it or assign different work. Tell the employer that one cannot perform the task until it has been mitigated. And, finally, remain at work until the employer orders one to leave. The employer cannot retaliate for this action, but OSHA complaints must be filed within 30 days of being told to leave the worksite. Though, contacting an attorney would also likely be a good idea as well.