After you suffer from a workplace injury, the first step is to notify your supervisor or manager immediately. Once you have taken that step, the ball is in the court of your employer. The State of Virginia requires the employer to file what is known as a First Report of Injury. That report leads to the Commission contacting you with documentation of your various rights and responsibilities associated with the process. If all works out and your claim is accepted, then you can look forward to receiving your award agreement. However, what happens if your employer refuses to address the dangerous working conditions that lead to these types of workplace injuries? Does this mean that you are out of options and must deal with it or find a different job?
A Workers Compensation Attorney in Manassas VA Helps You Contact Your Employer
If you are forced to work in unsafe conditions by your employer, then you first need to understand that this is not acceptable. Under no means whatsoever should you feel that you have no choice but to deal with those conditions or find a different job. As any Manassas VA workers comp lawyer will tell you, the first step that you must take is to reach out to your employer. Any workplace with dangerous working conditions is a direct violation of the laws enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The first step that you should take to address this issue is to formally report it to your employer. In addition to a verbal notification, it is recommended to document your report in writing. This can be accomplished by sending a simple email perhaps with a read receipt attached.
If you have already retained a worker’s compensation attorney in Manassas VA, then it would be suitable to copy him or her on the email as an added reference. Perhaps seeing that you have retained legal representation will send the subtle message of seriousness and urgency to your employer as well, which may cause them to reconsider and act accordingly.
Manassas VA Workers Comp Lawyer Will Help You to Contact OSHA
Once you have documented proof of the report to your employer and the unsafe dangerous working conditions are still an issue, then the next step is to file a formal complaint with OSHA. Keep in mind that you could file a complaint with OSHA at any time when exposed to dangerous working conditions. As any workers comp lawyer in Manassas VA would tell you, though, this does not mean that OSHA will immediately inspect the situation.
If a specific condition presents the risk of serious physical harm or imminent danger, you are encouraged to bring the matter to your employer’s attention immediately. If the employer refuses to do anything at that time, you do not have to wait for OSHA to intervene. According to the OSHA website, you have the legal right to refuse any task or activity that would directly expose you to that hazard.
There are specific conditions that must be met to ensure that your right to refuse these types of tasks is protected:
- The employer failed to eliminate the danger after you notified him or her
- Your refusal to work was in “good faith” based on the genuine belief that an imminent danger is present
- A reasonable person would also agree that there is a high risk of serious injury or death
- There is not enough time to get the issue addressed through standard enforcement channels (i.e. OSHA investigation)
Keep in mind that your refusal to work should have also addressed requesting an opportunity for a different assignment. Many people make the mistake of refusing work altogether and walking out without asking to work on a different task.
The next step is to inform your employer that you will not perform the required work or assigned task until the hazard is removed and/or corrected. According to OSHA, you need to make sure that you remain at your workplace until the employer orders you to leave.
Your Workers Compensation Attorney Will Help You with Any Resulting Actions
After you have been asked to leave by your employer, the question that may spin in your mind on a repeated loop is, “What do I do next?” Do not panic! If you have followed the steps outlined by OSHA cautiously and closely, then you have done your part. You must now focus on the guidance and insight of your Manassas workers compensation attorney to make sure that your rights (and your job) are protected.