Massachusetts residents work all types of jobs, which means work environments change from one occupation to the next. Some workplaces pose more risks than others. In order to rectify or reduce these health and safety issues, training and safety standards have been implemented and enforced by state and federal government entities, including the Occupational Safety and Heath Administration, or OSHA. However, when employers violate these standards, OSHA may not uncover these issues in a timely manner, causing some employees to work in unsafe conditions.
What is considered unsafe work conditions? These are conditions that place the life of an employee in imminent danger. This often includes health and safety hazards that could lead to a workplace injury or a work-related illness. Additionally, if employees are not provided proper or adequate training or safety equipment, this could also be considered unsafe working conditions caused by the employer.
What can employees do about unsafe work conditions? One thing that an employee could do is to refuse to work. If an employee believes the work area is unsafe and reasonably believes that the unsafe conditions could pose an immediate or substantial risk of serious injury or death, and the employer fails to fix it, there isn’t enough time to report the condition or there is no reasonable alternative to continue working, an employee can refuse to work in these conditions.
Employees who believe that they are working in unsafe work conditions can report the situation to OSHA. Also, if an injury or fatality is caused by these unsafe conditions, the injured employee or other employees at the workplace could report this incident. If it is determined that a safety violation is causing the unsafe work conditions, an employer could be held responsible for any incidents or damages resulting from the violation.
Employees harmed or impacted by unsafe work conditions should understand the rights and benefits available to them. Workers’ compensation is a benefit that could help injured employees, assisting them with damages and expenses such as medical bills and lost wages.
Source: Employment.findlaw.com, “Protecting Yourself from Unsafe Working Conditions,” accessed Oct. 19, 2015