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What can you do about unsafe working conditions?

If you go to work and discover that the floors are slick with water, the roofing on the facility is falling or collapsing, or other hazards are present, you'd expect your employer to take action. If he or she doesn't and ignores the problems, then you could be at risk of an injury. If you are injured because of these known hazards, then you're in a position to file a claim for workers' compensation and potentially to claim against your employer directly.

Unsafe working conditions put you at risk when you shouldn't be. Under federal and state law, your employer has to provide you with a safe workplace. If your employer isn't doing that, you have every right to report him or her to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which can then look into the work environment and make sure your employer is compliant.

If there is an immediate risk in your workplace, talk to your employer immediately. If it's something that can be fixed, he or she should fix the condition as soon as possible. You can report your employer if he or she won't fix the condition, because the agency is designed to enforce federal and state laws.

There are cases when you can stop working and refuse to complete your job. If you are in an environment where the danger is immediate, you can refuse to work. If there is an alternative, you should work that job, but if not, you can decide not to work and refuse further work until the employer eliminates the danger or investigates and finds that no danger is present.

Source: FindLaw, "Protecting Yourself from Unsafe Working Conditions," accessed July 07, 2016

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