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What constitutes an unsafe work environment

California workers are guaranteed the right to work in a safe place under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. As FindLaw explains, this federal statute requires that workplaces be maintained by employers in a manner that poses no known dangers to worker health and safety that could cause injury, illness or death. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration enforces the law by establishing safety standards and monitoring work sites to ensure that they comply with all OSHA regulations.

As part of maintaining a safe workplace, OSHA mandates that employers do the following things:

  • Provide safety training to their workers if and when necessary
  • Provide required safety gear such as helmets, gloves, goggles, safety vests, harnesses, lifelines, etc.
  • Protect their workers from toxic chemicals
  • Post an OSHA job safety notice at all work sites
  • Keep a record of any worker injuries, deaths and/or hazardous material exposures

Safety hazard procedures

Workers who believe that an unsafe workplace condition exists that poses an imminent danger to their lives should immediately report it to their employer and to OSHA. They also have the right to refuse to work if they believe that the immediacy of the danger poses a substantial risk of death or serious injury, their employer will not fix it, there is insufficient time to notify OSHA and they have no alternative but to stop working.

If the hazardous condition does not pose an imminent danger, workers should notify their employer of it in writing. Should their employer fail to correct it, they should file a written complaint with OSHA and request an OSHA inspection. Under OSHA regulations and many state laws, workers are protected from employer retaliation for reporting a workplace safety violation.

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