Your boss can give you assignments at work that you have to follow through on, and there is always a risk you could be injured on the job. In some industries, such as the construction industry, the risk is relatively high. But you could be injured in virtually any occupation.
That said, what if you feel like the specific job your boss gave you to do is just not reasonably safe? Maybe they want you to work at heights without proper fall protection, for instance, or run a machine with the safety guards removed because it’s faster. Can you refuse to do the work?
Tell your boss about the risk first
The first step is to alert your boss to the lack of safety. You need to give them a chance to make changes to create a safe working environment.
When a company doesn’t prioritize safety, the workers are allowed to report this to OSHA. Agents may then carry out an inspection and fine the company for any violations.
However, there is not always time to set this up. If you think that the work is unreasonably dangerous and your boss has refused to make the necessary changes, then you are fully within your rights to refuse to do that task. If your boss then fires you or retaliates in any other way, you have a month to file a complaint with OSHA.
What if you’ve already been injured?
It’s important to know when you can refuse to do a job, but it may already be too late. If you’ve been injured on the job, you need to know how to get proper workers’ compensation.