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Can I Refuse to Do Dangerous Work? Unequivocally, Yes!

May 3, 2019 Admin Whistleblower

Safety concerns crop up in the workplace, creating the potential for serious bodily harm or even death. As a California worker, you can absolutely refuse to undertake work that can potentially cause you injury or make you ill. In the state of California, employees are legally protected from unsafe and dangerous working conditions under the California Occupational Safety and Health Act, or Cal/OSHA. Knowing your rights to safety at work under Cal/OSHA is important to avoid infringement of those rights by unscrupulous employers who sometimes trample on employee safety for the sake of saving money or meeting deadlines.

Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers and our team of Los Angeles whistleblower attorneys are staunch advocates for the safety of California’s workers. Reach out to us if your employer is making unreasonable demands that sacrifice your safety, putting you in harm’s way.

Cal/OSHA is California’s version of the federal Occupational Health and Safety Act. Cal/OSHA provides many of the same protections to workers afforded by OSHA. And in some instances, it provides even greater levels of protection, such as its policies regarding heat illnesses, repetitive motion injuries and exposure to chemicals in the workplace.

Among its many requirements, Cal/OSHA mandates that employers post information about the employee protections and employer obligations in a place where all employees can see it. Employees must be made aware of their rights to:

  • Report any working conditions that they feel are unsafe
  • Request Cal/OSHA to perform workplace safety inspections
  • Receive Hazardous Substances and Information Training Act info
  • Refuse to begin or continue working in dangerous or unsafe conditions

No California worker is required to perform any type of work that they believe to be harmful or dangerous to them, and employers cannot retaliate against the employee for exercising their right to safety. The employee should voice their safety concerns to the employer. If the employer fails to remedy the problem, then the employee can absolutely refuse to perform work that is potentially dangerous. The caveat to this is that the worker can only refuse to perform the work if there is not sufficient time to report the conditions to Cal/OSHA and there are no safer alternatives to complete the work safely.

Employer retaliation against employees in this type of situation – such as placing the employee on an unfavorable work schedule, reducing the employee’s hours, or even terminating the employee – is strictly forbidden under Cal/OSHA’s whistleblower protections.

A whistleblower is an employee who reports unsafe, unhealthy or hazardous conditions or who files a complaint about a dangerous workplace to Cal/OSHA.

Workplace Safety Concerns? We Can Help

Your employer is bound by law to create a safe working environment for you. You should never feel compelled to take on work that is dangerous and refusing a dangerous project should never subject you to employer retaliation, including discipline, discrimination, termination or some other adverse action. If your employer has violated your rights under Cal/OSHA, then Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers wants to know. Contact our knowledgeable and compassionate Los Angeles whistleblower team now at 310-527-6994 to discuss the details of your particular case.

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