Sections:

Article

Workers' Right to Refuse Dangerous Work - OSHA Rights and Protections

Workers' Right to Refuse Dangerous Work OSHA Workers' Rights and Protections

https://www.osha.gov/workers/right-to-refuse

If you believe working conditions are unsafe or unhealthful, we recommend that you bring the conditions to your employer's attention, if possible.

You may file a complaint with OSHA concerning a hazardous working condition at any time. However, you should not leave the worksite merely because you have filed a complaint. If the condition clearly presents a risk of death or serious physical harm, there is not sufficient time for OSHA to inspect, and, where possible, you have brought the condition to the attention of your employer, you may have a legal right to refuse to work in a situation in which you would be exposed to the hazard. (OSHA cannot enforce union contracts that give employees the right to refuse to work.)

Your right to refuse to do a task is protected if all of the following conditions are 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.

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. To contact OSHA call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) and ask to be connected to your closest area office. No form is required to file a discrimination complaint, but you must call OSHA.

By Standard Number 1977.12 - Exercise of any Right Afforded by the Act.

Part Number: 1977

Part Number Title:

Discrimination Against Employees Exercising Rights Under the Williams Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1971

Standard Number: 1977.12

Title: Exercise of any Right Afforded by the Act.

GPO Source: e-CFR

1977.12(a)

In addition to protecting employees who file complaints, institute proceedings, or testify in proceedings under or related to the Act, section 11(c) also protects employees from discrimination occurring because of the exercise “of any right afforded by this Act.” Certain rights are explicitly provided in the Act; for example, there is a right to participate as a party in enforcement proceedings (section 10). Certain other rights exist by necessary implication. For example, employees may request information from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; such requests would constitute the exercise of a right afforded by the Act. Likewise, employees interviewed by agents of the Secretary in the course of inspections or investigations could not subsequently be discriminated against because of their cooperation.

1977.12(b)(1)

On the other hand, review of the Act and examination of the legislative history discloses that, as a general matter, there is no right afforded by the Act which would entitle employees to walk off the job because of potential unsafe conditions at the workplace. Hazardous conditions which may be violative of the Act will ordinarily be corrected by the employer, once brought to his attention. If corrections are not accomplished, or if there is dispute about the existence of a hazard, the employee will normally have opportunity to request inspection of the workplace pursuant to section 8(f) of the Act, or to seek the assistance of other public agencies which have responsibility in the field of safety and health. Under such circumstances, therefore, an employer would not ordinarily be in violation of section 11(c) by taking action to discipline an employee for refusing to perform normal job activities because of alleged safety or health hazards.

1977.12(b)(2)

However, occasions might arise when an employee is confronted with a choice between not performing assigned tasks or subjecting himself to serious injury or death arising from a hazardous condition at the workplace. If the employee, with no reasonable alternative, refuses in good faith to expose himself to the dangerous condition, he would be protected against subsequent discrimination. The condition causing the employee's apprehension of death or injury must be of such a nature that a reasonable person, under the circumstances then confronting the employee, would conclude that there is a real danger of death or serious injury and that there is insufficient time, due to the urgency of the situation, to eliminate the danger through resort to regular statutory enforcement channels. In addition, in such circumstances, the employee, where possible, must also have sought from his employer, and been unable to obtain, a correction of the dangerous condition.

[38 FR 2681, Jan. 29, 1973, as amended at 38 FR 4577, Feb. 16, 1973]

https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1977/1977.12#1977.12(b)(2)



Comments:

Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at substancenews.net. We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

3 + 5 =