According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 2,000 Americans sustain workplace injuries or illness that cause them to miss work in 2020.
As an employee, you have a right to protect yourself from unsafe working conditions, and to receive financial compensation for workplace injuries. Working alongside an experienced dangerous conditions lawyer will help ensure your compensation is fair.
What Is OSHA?
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 is a federal statute that requires employers to maintain a workplace that is free of dangerous health and safety conditions that can cause illness, injury, or death. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also referred to as OSHA, enforces the act and establishes safety standards. OSHA applies to private employers that conduct business through interstate commerce. This includes doing business via the U.S. Postal Service or through telephone calls to other states.
The intent of OSHA is to protect workers (excluding independent contractors) from:
- One-time injuries;
- Illnesses caused by unsafe health conditions in the workplace
- Recognized hazards that may cause death or serious injury.
To protect workers from unsafe working conditions, employers must abide by workplace safety standards. Employers must:
- Provide a workplace free of health and safety hazards that can cause death or serious injury;
- Post a OSHA job safety notice in the workplace;
- Keep a record of injuries, deaths, and exposure to hazardous material; and
- Provide safety training if necessary.
Safety standards set by OSHA include provisions for the storage of hazardous chemicals, equipment maintenance, fire protection, and protective clothing.
What Should I Do If I’m Working In Dangerous Conditions?
If you have been working in unsafe conditions that have placed your life in imminent danger, you should report the dangerous condition to OSHA. You also has the right to refuse to work if:
- You do not have a reasonable alternative.
- There is a reasonable and good faith belief that a condition in the workplace poses an immediate and substantial risk of serious physical injury or death.
- The employer will not fix the dangerous condition.
- The immediacy of the danger does not allow enough time to report the condition to OSHA or the appropriate state agency.
You can refuse to return to work until the employer eliminates the danger or investigates and determines that no imminent danger exists.
If a dangerous condition does not create the risk of imminent danger, you should formally inform the employer of the condition in writing. If the employer fails to correct the condition, you can file a complaint with OSHA or with the appropriate state occupational safety agency.
Some employees fail to report dangerous conditions or violations out of fear of retaliation. However, federal regulations and state laws prohibit employers from retaliating against a worker that reports a violation. This means the employer may not fire, demote, or reduce a worker’s pay because the worker filed a complaint about unsafe working conditions. Should such retaliation occur and the OSHA investigate and find employer retaliation, the worker can be reinstated to their former position and receive an order for compensation for lost wages.
Start Working With An Experienced Dangerous Conditions Lawyer
If you are dealing with dangerous working conditions or have been injured on the job you need to speak with an experienced dangerous conditions lawyer.
At Lehr Law, we can help you determine your rights and help you decide whether the best course of action is filing a lawsuit, or negotiating with an employer. If you believe you have been working in dangerous conditions, contact Lehr Law firm today by calling (858) 240-9993 or request a consultation online for a free case evaluation.