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How to deal with unsafe work conditions in California

Regardless of whether a job in California carries with it inherent risks or is considered to be relatively innocuous and safe, all workers are entitled to be protected from unsafe work conditions. So too are they accorded protections if they are put into an unsafe situation and choose to complain about it to the proper authorities. Unfortunately, there are times when employers will put employees at risk and, when there is a complain lodged about it, the employer will also take steps to commit acts of retaliation. That can range from various punishments while still on the job to a wrongful termination.

Employees have the right to be safe while at work. In a limited way, they are allowed to refuse to do certain types of work that they believe to be dangerous to the particular employee and coworkers. The employer is not legally allowed to issue any form of sanction for this. Employees might also not know that they are allowed to initiate anonymous contact with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for inspectors to come and examine the workplace to make certain it is safe and to take steps to make it safe if it is not.

There are certain regulations that the employers must follow when it comes to providing an atmosphere of proper safety to employees. They include -- informing employees of possible exposure to hazardous material, how they can affect health and equipment that can give protection, issuing warnings to employees prior to chemical exposure if these chemicals can lead to cancer or reproductive issues, give employees the health and safety records of the company going back five years and keep a safe and healthy environment for employees.

The place of employment can receive penalties if there are violations. If these are extreme, the workplace can be shut down. A person who was disciplined or lost the person's job because of informing about an unsafe work condition can file a complaint within 180 days of the incident. Those who are concerned about filing a complaint about safety issues or have been retaliated against need to understand their rights under California employment law by consulting with a qualified legal professional experienced in wrongful termination and unsafe work conditions.

Source: calbar.ca.gov, "12. Is there anything I can do about unsafe working conditions?," accessed on April 5, 2016