Our nation is built on the backs of hard-working individuals, who show up and do the jobs that others may be unwilling to do. However, even though some occupations, by their nature, expose workers to a certain amount of danger, if an unsafe working condition causes an employee to be put into imminent danger, that employee has rights.
First of all, the employee can report the issue to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is the agency that enforces safety standards in the workplace. In addition, under certain circumstances, a worker placed in such a situation may have the right to refuse to work. This may be the case if a reasonable and good faith belief exists that the unsafe workplace condition presents an imminent and substantial risk of serious injury or fatalities. Also, the employer must refuse to remedy the dangerous condition. In addition, the immediacy of the danger must prohibit the worker from being able to report the situation to OSHA. Finally, there must be no reasonable alternative way that the employee could perform his or her job.
If there is a safety hazard in the workplace, but it doesn't necessarily present a risk of imminent danger, workers still have rights. They can let their employer know, in writing, of the dangerous situation. If, after that, the employer does not remedy the situation, the employee can file a complaint with OSHA. An employee cannot be retaliated against for doing so.
It is important that all workers are kept safe while on the job. They should not be forced into unsafe work conditions, and they should not be subjected to wrongful termination for refusing to work when they are legally allowed not to. Workers in the Minneapolis area who feel their safety, or even their lives, are at risk, should not be afraid to take action, including seeking legal help from an attorney if necessary.
Source: FindLaw, "Protecting Yourself from Unsafe Working Conditions," accessed Dec. 10, 2016