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You can refuse to do a dangerous job

Workplace accidents often happen without warning, but what if your employer gives you a job that you think is simply too dangerous? Do you have to do it, or can you refuse?

While many workers are nervous about refusing dangerous work, fearing that they're going to be fired, you should know that there are situations in which you can stand up for yourself and say you won't do the job as it stands right then. You don't have to put yourself in harm's way, risking injury and even death, just because your employer wants you to.

However, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration does advise you to follow a few guidelines while making your refusal:

-- First off, you need to ask your employer to make the situation less dangerous. If your employer does, then you can do the task as you were asked. If not, you can refuse. But you shouldn't simply refuse without asking for the safety-related changes to be made.

-- Next, you should only refuse if there's not time to get an official inspection done. Employees can report a danger to OSHA and ask for an inspection to gather more information. If the job has to be done immediately, though, you may not be able to wait, and then you can refuse to work.

-- Finally, all refusals have to be made in "good faith," with a real belief that serious danger exits. If a reasonable person was asked, he or she would agree with you that the job is too dangerous to be carried out.

Even when you remember your rights as an employee and try to reduce risks, dangers in the workplace can't always be avoided. If you've been injured, be sure you know what rights you have to worker's compensation.

Source: OSHA, "Workers' Right to Refuse Dangerous Work," accessed Nov. 16, 2016

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  • American Association for Justice
  • NYCOSH-New York Committee for occupational Safety & Health
  • NYSTLA
  • Queens County Bar Association
  • Society of New York Workers’ Compensation Bar Association, Inc | 1945
  • National Organization of social security claimants Representatives
  • NYSBA
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