Every seasoned construction worker knows how to operate their equipment safely. They know what a safe worksite looks like, and they can spot dangerous conditions immediately. One of their greatest fears is the nightmare scenario where they see one of these dangerous conditions, but their foreman demands they work through it, putting their life and limb at risk. If this happens, can they avoid that Los Angeles, California, construction accident by refusing to work?
Depending on the situation, yes
Indeed, federal law and OSHA regulations do not force construction workers to work when a construction accident is imminent. In fact, employers have a responsibility to ensure that construction worksites are safe and healthy, and if they fail in that duty, workers have options.
What type of dangerous condition qualifies?
To qualify as a dangerous condition that rises to a level where work refusal is appropriate, it must be so dangerous that the risk of death or serious physical harm is clearly present. It must also be such an extremely dangerous condition that OSHA or another state-level agency would not have time to inspect or mitigate that dangerous condition. And, a reasonable person would agree that the condition rises to this level.
What to do before refusing to work
First, alert your employer of the condition. They should recognize the danger and immediately mitigate it. If they are unable to eliminate the condition or mitigate the safety concerns, ask to work at an alternative Los Angeles, California, worksite or on a different task that is not in the dangerous condition’s area. In addition, you should make sure that all of these actions have some documentation associated with them. For example, after talking with your bosses, email them confirmation of your understanding. Documenting that the employer knew, you offered alternative solutions and your employer still demanded that you work in this dangerous condition could be important, should litigation be needed later, or if a construction accident does, indeed, occur. If possible, take photos as well.
The work stoppage
After doing the above, report the incident, with proof, to OSHA. Let the employer know that you are refusing to work in the dangerous condition, and stay put. Do not leave the worksite until ordered to do so. Then, if you are fired or asked to leave the worksite, notify OSHA and your Los Angeles, California, attorney of these retaliatory actions, and document them as you are able.