Unsafe Work Environment & California Workers’ Compensation
Protecting Workers Dealing With OSHA Violations and Other Unsafe Conditions
California law and federal law guarantee employees the right to work in a safe environment. Federal safety standards are governed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA conducts tens of thousands of inspections every year, in large part based on complaints filed by concerned workers. If you are stuck in an unsafe workplace, you have rights. We can help.
California workers’ compensation and workplace safety law firm Invictus Law is ready to help you understand your right to a safe workplace and your options should you fear for your safety or the lives of your coworkers. You do not have to sit idly by and wait for an accident to happen. If you see something wrong with how your construction site, factory, chemical plant, or other workplace is being operated, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and others. If you’ve suffered an injury due to an unsafe working condition, call our savvy Orange County worker’s compensation lawyer for advice and assistance.
Do I Have to Keep Working in Unsafe Conditions?
According to OSHA regulations, workers have the right to refuse to work in dangerous conditions. In order to have the right to legitimately refuse to work, without fear of retaliation, the following must be true:
- There is a real, imminent danger in the workplace
- The employee is refusing to work in “good faith,” meaning they actually believe that an imminent danger exists
- A “reasonable person” would agree that such a danger is present
- The employee has identified the danger to their employer and the employer has failed to remedy the situation
- There isn’t enough time to get the hazard corrected through enforcement channels, such as OSHA, due to the urgency of the hazard
If you are concerned about whether to continue working in a dangerous area, consult with a knowledgeable California workplace injury attorney.
Should I Report Unsafe Working Conditions?
If you identify conditions that make you fear for your safety or the safety of your coworkers, it behooves you to speak up. The last thing you want is to suffer a serious injury or to watch a co-worker get hurt as a result of a hazard that you knew about and could have helped. It might not affect your workers’ comp claim, but it could affect your conscience.
If you notice a hazard or unsafe working condition such as a lack of safety apparatus or equipment, your first step should be to notify your supervisor. Your employer is responsible for keeping conditions at the factory, construction site, or other place of business safe. The issue may be as simple as your supervisor being unaware of the issue. If you work for a subcontractor, your employer should work with the contractor to fix the issue. Businesses tend to be risk-averse and would likely prefer to fix a dangerous situation rather than face an OSHA violation or litigation.
If you report the dangerous condition and nothing happens, or if you have reason to believe you may be retaliated against for reporting a dangerous condition, talk to a labor law attorney about what you should do next. You may want to talk to your local union rep, if you are part of a union, report the condition to OSHA, or report the condition to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA). Reporting the condition to OSHA or Cal/OSHA might trigger an investigation, which could result in a fine to your employer or, at the least, the condition being resolved. Your lawyer will help you understand your options and advise you on the best thing to do next.
Keep in mind: If you do choose to report the safety violation externally, your employer cannot retaliate against you. You cannot be demoted, transferred, or fired because you chose to report an illegal safety violation. If your employer does retaliate against you, you might have a claim for unlawful retaliation or unlawful termination.
Call a California Workers’ Compensation Attorney if You’ve Been Injured by a Dangerous Hazard in the Workplace
If you feel unsafe in your workplace or have suffered an injury, it’s time to act. The skilled and professional Southern California workers’ compensation attorney at Invictus Law is ready to hear your claims. We’ll help you get the medical care and benefits you are entitled to under the law. For seasoned and dedicated help with a Southern California workplace injury claim, contact a workers’ compensation lawyer at Invictus Law, PC, for a no-cost consultation at 949-287-5711, with offices in Orange County and the Inland Empire.