With everything going on right now, the health and safety of ourselves, loved ones and coworkers is at the forefront of minds.
If your workplace is essential during the pandemic, and you believe your employer is not providing a safe and healthy environment, you may have options.
According to OSHA, workers have certain rights and employers’ have outlined responsibilities.
Workers’ Rights and Employers’ Responsibilities
Employers also have a duty to provide a work environment free of known health and safety hazards. Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, 29 USC 660(c), prohibits employers from retaliating against workers for raising concerns about safety and health conditions.
Employees have the right to refuse to work if the condition clearly presents a risk of death or serious physical harm. However, certain conditions have to be met:
Where possible, you have asked the employer to eliminate the danger, and the employer failed to do so; and
You refused to work in "good faith." This means that you must genuinely believe that an imminent danger exists; and
A reasonable person would agree that there is a real danger of death or serious injury; and
There isn't enough time, due to the urgency of the hazard, to get it corrected through regular enforcement channels, such as requesting an OSHA inspection.
OSHA encourages employees who believe their working conditions are unsafe or unhealthful to bring the conditions to their employer’s attention.
You should take the following steps:
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.
If your employer retaliates against you for refusing to perform the dangerous work, contact OSHA immediately. Complaints of retaliation must be made to OSHA within 30 days of the alleged reprisal.
If you have been injured after performing a task that was unsafe and/or against OSHA standards, contact the experienced attorneys at Kimmel, Carter, Roman, Peltz, and O’Neill.