Any workplace can be dangerous. Even a disorganized office environment presents its own dangers, but construction worksites can be some of the most dangerous places to work in Albany, New York.
Because, by its very nature, construction worksites are dangerous. Think about the construction process. It requires heavy equipment, sharp objects, pressurized and powered tools, vehicles, digging, etc. All of these activities are inherently dangerous.
This does not mean construction companies can be reckless
If construction companies are reckless though, workers have options. If construction workers believe that their employer or contractors are being reckless or creating unhealthy and unsafe conditions, let supervisors know. They may not know, but if they persist, file an Albany, New York, OSHA complaint.
What if you are afraid for your life?
Simply filing an OSHA complaint does not mean you should leave the worksite. However, if there are workplace conditions that are dangerous to the point where you are afraid for your life, and OSHA does not have time to inspect or mitigate it, you may have the right to refuse to work. Of course, Albany, New York, union contracts may have an independent right to refuse to work, but that is separate from OSHA.
Right to refuse to work
The right to refuse to work is present, as long as some pre-requisites are met. First, the worker must ask their supervisor, manager or other employer to mitigate or eliminate the dangerous condition. Second, the employer refused to mitigate or failed to mitigate. Second, the refusal to work because of that dangerous condition is in “good faith.” Good faith means that the worker had a genuine belief that the dangerous condition was an imminent threat to their life or limb. Third, a reasonable person would agree that this dangerous work condition is, in fact, a real and present danger of serious injury or death to the worker. And, finally, regular enforcement channels, like OSHA or other state workplace regulatory agencies, would not have time to correct that danger due to the urgency of that Albany, New York, workplace hazard.
How to exercise this right
Ask for the danger to be mitigated or for a different work assignment. If the situation meets the pre-requisites above, then tell your employer that you cannot and will not work until that hazard is eliminated or you get an alternative work assignment. Stay until ordered to leave to show your willingness to work an alternate task or at an alternate worksite. If you are then fired or your employer takes some other retaliatory action, contact OSHA again, but not more than 30 days.