Unsafe Work Environment FAQs
When employees go to work, they expect their environment to be safe from hazardous conditions. However, this is not always the case, and questions can arise regarding if a workplace environment rises to the level of illegally unsafe. The Orange County unsafe work environment attorneys at the Serendib Law Firm help employees who are concerned for their health and safety determine whether their jobs are the source of their harm. We help clients assert and protect their legal rights under the law. Some common questions in assessing your right to a safe and healthful workplace include:
- What Laws Protect My Safety at My Job?
- What Type of Employees Are Protected Under the Law?
- What Does Cal / OSHA Protect Me From?
- Am I Protected From Any Other Injuries or Sickness From My Workplace?
- What Is an Injury and Illness Prevention Program?
- What Creates a Hazard That Violates the Law and My Rights?
- Who Can I File a Complaint With If My Workplace Is Unsafe?
- What If My Employer Fires Me for Reporting Unsafe Conditions at Work?
The California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973 (Cal/OSHA) is the state law that protects employees from unhealthy workplaces. This statute requires employers to provide an environment that is free “from danger to the life, safety, or health of employees as the nature of the employment reasonably permits.” This requirement includes the duty to provide workers with specific safety manuals and guidelines.
Cal/OSHA protects most employees, regardless of seniority. However, it generally does not apply to independent contractors or jobs that are classified as household or domestic services. If you think you should be protected from an unsafe workplace but are not, contact an Orange County employment law attorney who can help determine your legal options.
Although there is a federal OSHA, California’s Cal/OSHA offers more protections for state employees. These include safeguards from exposure to certain chemicals as well as exposure to concrete and masonry dust.
Yes. Cal/OSHA also protects employees who suffer repetitive motion injuries; heat illnesses; and airborne diseases such as measles, flu, or tuberculosis. Employers are also required to develop a comprehensive Injury and Illness Prevention Program to keep employees informed about job-related hazards.
An Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) is a written description of any potential dangers associated with a specific job category. Among other requirements, an IIPP must disclose potential hazards as well as include a manual instructing employee on safe workplace practices. If your workplace does not have proper protocols in place, dangerous hazards could develop. A knowledgeable unsafe work environment lawyer in Orange County can assist you in determining if you are at unreasonable risk while working.
While there are no specifications on hazards that violate Cal/OSHA, some common examples of illegal unsafe conditions include: employees continuing to work in excessive heat; unmanned equipment; failure to provide proper protective wear or equipment; and overly-cluttered warehouse aisles. Employees have the right to refuse to work in an unsafe environment.
If you believe your workplace is dangerous or creates an unhealthy environment, you can file a complaint with Cal/OSHA to request an inspection. It’s advisable to first speak to your employer in case they are unaware of the issue and can fix it. Of course, where your employer refuses to address a dangerous condition, an official complaint should be filed.
California law offers “whistleblower” protections to employees who report any hazardous or unsafe working conditions to the proper officials or agencies. Employees cannot be fired, retaliated against, or discriminated against for refusing to work in an unhealthful workplace, or for filing a complaint regarding the situation. Employers who engage in retaliation can be held legally accountable.
If you are concerned with your health and safety at your workplace, our Orange County employment law attorneys can help you pursue proper action. The Serendib Law Firm assists clients throughout Southern California including Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties. Please call our office at 1-800-LAW-8225 (800-529-8825) or contact us online to find out more about our legal services.