John A. Klassen, PA Minnesota Employment Law Attorney
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What can employees in Minnesota do about unsafe work conditions?

Employers in Minnesota are obligated to provide employees with a safe working environment. This obligation includes providing safe facilities, appropriate training and having a system in place to address safety concerns as they arise. Unfortunately, some employees in Minnesota may be working in an environment that ignores these obligations. So, what can employees do about unsafe work conditions at their place of employment?

For starters, serious concerns about workplace safety issues might be best addressed by the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration, commonly referred to as "OSHA." This federal agency exists so that health and safety concerns in the workplace can be inspected, investigated and sanctioned accordingly. Employers have an incentive to do their best to avoid OSHA violations, because such violations can result in significant fines, as well as bad publicity when the violations are reported.

However, sometimes OSHA violation investigations can take quite a bit of time to complete. What can workers do when the unsafe work environment presents a clear and constant threat to the health and safety of workers, and still isn't being addressed by the employer? In some circumstances, employees may be able to refuse to come to work until the issue is addressed.

But, workers should know that an employer might respond to this conduct by terminating the worker's employment. Fortunately, the worker might then be able to respond with a wrongful termination claim. Such a claim could help affected workers seek financial compensation, as well as ultimately getting the employer to address the safety concern once and for all.

Source: FindLaw, "Protecting Yourself from Unsafe Working Conditions," Accessed April 30, 2017

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