If you’re subjected to unsafe working conditions, whether you’re in an office, a factory, a restaurant or anywhere else, you have the right to speak up. You also have the right to protect yourself from unsafe work conditions.
But you have to be able to identify them first.
How to Identify Unsafe Working Conditions
Your employer has a responsibility to keep you safe by providing a work environment that is free “from danger to the life, safety, or health of employees as the nature of the employment reasonably permits,” according to California Labor Code.
It’s always important to look out for safety hazards, though – even if you trust that your employer is doing everything it can to protect you and other workers. You need to watch for:
- Safety hazards
- Biological hazards
- Physical hazards
- Ergonomic hazards
- Chemical hazards
- Work organization hazards
How to Identify Safety Hazards at Work
If you see a safety hazard at work, let a supervisor know before you or someone else gets hurt.
Safety hazards can include:
- Confined spaces
- Electrical hazards, like frayed wires or improper wiring
- Things that can cause falls from heights
- Things that can cause tripping or slips and falls
- Unguarded machinery
How to Identify Biological Hazards at Work
Biological hazards are things that can cause disease as a result of working with people, animals or infectious organic materials.
Biological hazards can include:
- Animal droppings
- Bacteria and viruses
- Insect bites or stings
- Mold or fungus
How to Identify Physical Hazards at Work
Physical hazards are environmental factors that can harm someone without requiring the person to physically touch something. Physical hazards can include:
- Continuous loud noise
- Sunlight or ultraviolet rays
- Temperature extremes
How to Identify Ergonomic Hazards at Work
Ergonomic hazards are those things that put strain on a person’s body. Ergonomic hazards can include:
- Awkward, repetitive movements
- Constant vibration
- Frequent lifting
- Poorly adjusted workstations
How to Identify Chemical Hazards at Work
Chemical hazards are present when workers are exposed to chemical preparations in liquid, solid or gas forms. Chemical hazards can include:
- Chemicals in unlabeled containers
- Cleaning products and solvents
- Flammable materials
- Gases like carbon monoxide, propane and acetylene
How to Identify Work Organization Hazards at Work
Work organization hazards are things that cause short- and long-term effects, including stress. Some work organization hazards include:
- Intensity or pace of work
- Limited flexibility in the workplace
- Sexual harassment
- Workplace violence
What to Do if You Identify Unsafe Working Conditions
If you encounter unsafe working conditions, tell your immediate supervisor. If your supervisor doesn’t correct the issue, escalate your complaint to his or her supervisor – you could be protecting yourself and others from a serious injury.
Although it seems simple, it can be incredibly tough to get your employer to correct unsafe conditions in your workplace. If that’s the case in your situation, you may need to file a report with California’s Cal/OSHA Enforcement Branch.
You might have the right to refuse to work until your employer corrects the situation, or until your employer investigates and finds out that there isn’t any imminent danger. However, before you refuse to work, you probably want to talk to an unsafe working conditions lawyer in Glendale or L.A. who understands the law and how it applies in your situation.
If you are injured at work because your employer didn’t protect you and should have, you may be entitled to sue for damages. The first step is to contact an employment attorney who will evaluate your case and give you the legal advice you need.
Call us at 818-805-1645 or toll-free at 800-774-4163 for a free case evaluation now. We may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve.