As an employee, you are entitled to certain legal rights from your employer. These are designed to protect you in the workplace and ensure that you are treated fairly and not taken advantage of.
Your boss has to pay you a fair wage, there are limits on the number of consecutive hours that you can work, and in most places, you cannot be fired without good reason. You’re also entitled to work in a safe environment and it’s up to your employer to make sure that the workplace is free of any dangers.
There are a lot of rules and regulations in place that your boss needs to follow in order to make sure that your workplace is safe – for example, all employers must carry out risk assessments to ensure the safety of their workforce.
The majority of employers have no issue with this and they do everything that is required of them, but you’ll always get people that want to cut corners and that means you may find yourself being asked to work in an unsafe environment.
This is a tricky situation to be in because, even though your employer is in a position of power, you need to ensure that you aren’t putting yourself at risk of injury or even death if you continue to work in that environment. If you feel that your workplace is unsafe, here’s what you need to do.
Refuse To Continue Working
The very first thing that you need to do is stop working, remove yourself from that environment, and inform your boss that you refuse to continue working in an unsafe environment.
A lot of people worry about doing this because they think that refusing a direct order from their employer is going to get them in trouble and potentially even get them fired. However, refusing to work in an unsafe environment is one of the things that you can’t get fired for, so there’s no need to worry. Your employer might not like it but they can’t fire you for it.
The important thing here is that you don’t put yourself in any danger so you remove yourself from the situation right away. If you continue to work in unsafe conditions, there is a very high chance that you will sustain a serious injury.
Inform Others Of The Problem
If there are other employees working under the same conditions, there is a chance that they might not have noticed the same dangers that you have.
Once you’ve decided that the work area is unsafe and you are going to stop working, you should inform your coworkers so they can decide whether they are happy to continue or not.
The chances are, they won’t be and they will also refuse to work. This means that you reduce the chance of anybody else getting hurt and you have more people to back you up if your employer does try to fight you on the issue.
As well as informing your coworkers, you need to let your immediate superiors know about the problem. At this stage, you don’t know whether they were even aware of the potential dangers or not. It might be the case that it was a simple mistake and they will rectify it so everybody can get back to work and the problem is easily solved.
However, if they refuse to acknowledge the problem and do something about it, and they are trying to convince you that you should go back to work, you will need to take it further.
Seek Legal Advice
Before you get into a big dispute with your boss about workplace safety, it’s important that you seek legal advice so you can be sure that you’re going about it in the right way.
If you have already sustained an injury as a result of bad practices, it’s vital that you speak to somebody like the Simon Law Group and explain the situation to them.
They will help you to make a claim against your boss and take you through the process in the proper way. If you make any mistakes here, you could invalidate your claim, so it’s important that you always seek legal advice before doing anything.
If your employer is refusing to do anything to deal with the health and safety issues in the workplace, it’s likely that your lawyers will ask you if you have any evidence of the violations.
If you don’t have any evidence, it’s likely that your employer will quickly rectify the issues and say that there was never a safety hazard. That does mean the problem is sorted but it also means that you may end up liable for refusing to work if you can’t prove that you had a good reason.
It’s a good idea to try to get a few photos of the work area in question so if you need to, you can prove that it wasn’t a safe environment to work in.
Report Your Employer
If you’ve notified your employer of the problem and they still aren’t doing anything about it, you’ll have no choice but to report them to OSHA.
The reporting system will be anonymous, however, your employer will probably have a good idea that it was you that reported them because you have already raised the issue with them.
That means you should be prepared for some hostility between you and your employer, especially if they incur some kind of fine for the violation.
Look For A New Job
Even though your employer can’t directly fire you for reporting a health and safety violation, it’s going to cause some bad blood between you and they’ll probably be looking for opportunities to get rid of you in the future.
That’s why it’s a good idea to start looking for a job now so you aren’t left in a bad situation. You also don’t really want to continue to work for somebody that doesn’t put make employee safety a priority anyway, so moving to a different company is the best thing to do.
You don’t have to put up with a dangerous workplace, you have the right to a safe environment while at work, so make sure that you follow these steps if you find yourself in a situation that you’re uncomfortable with.
Is your workplace unsafe?