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Can I refuse dangerous work?

While following your employer’s instructions is generally a good thing, there are some situations that may require you to break the rules. If you have ever felt that you were in danger during a work assignment in California, you may have wondered what your legal rights were and whether or not your job would be protected if you refused. Here is what the United States Occupational Health and Safety Administration has to say.


First, know that you never have to agree to do something that you believe may be dangerous or unhealthy. If your employer takes any negative actions toward you for refusing, you may be within your legal rights to seek help from the government.


Next, be sure that you have followed all necessary requirements in making your refusal. This means you should remain at the worksite, tell your employer about the hazard and request other work. If the hazard is fixable, you can request that your employer make the correction and state that you will not work until it is done.


In order to be protected by law, you need to be sure that the hazard presents real danger. If you could be seriously injured or killed and believe that a reasonable person would agree with you, you should alert your employer. You also must ask that the danger be eliminated.


Do not leave the worksite unless your employer tells you to do so. If you follow all of these steps and your employer retaliates against you or does not correct the problem, you may file a complaint. This information is intended for your education and should not be taken as legal advice.

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