Some people think that construction site accidents are entirely unavoidable. They believe that, because of the nature of construction worksites, they are inherently dangerous, and accidents are unavoidable. However, this is entirely untrue, and the law actually mandates that construction site be safe and healthy for the employees that work on the site. And, those same employees can proactively avoid construction site accidents by refusing to work when they see a work condition that will cause a New York, New York, accident.
The conditions needed to refuse to work
A construction worker cannot refuse to work for any perceived danger. Indeed, the hazardous working condition must rise to the level that it clearly presents a risk of imminent and serious physical harm or a risk of imminent death. It must be so severe that OSHA does not have time to inspect it, and that a reasonable worker would agree about this imminent risk. If this danger exists, then construction workers may have the right to refuse to work.
The notice requirement
A New York, New York, construction worker cannot unilaterally refuse to work to avoid a construction site accident. There are requirements. The first requirement is that the worker must first tell their employer about the hazardous working condition. Then, the employer can assign the worker to a different task or an alternate worksite. While that worker works the alternative task or worksite, the employer must then mitigate or eliminate that dangerous work condition.
What if my boss does not care?
Just because your boss tells you to keep working when you know a construction site accident is imminent does not mean you have to do it. As long as the worksite condition is like those described above, you have given your employer notice of it, your belief that the dangerous condition is in good faith and it is reasonable, then you can refuse to work. Document the interactions with your employer, take photographs and report the hazardous condition and the employer’s inaction to OSHA. However, do not leave the construction site until you are ordered to do so. Your next call should be to OSHA to let them know you have been retaliated against (fired, losing a day of work, etc.). After that second report to OSHA, gather up all of your documentation and photos, and then call a lawyer because you will likely have to initiate litigation at this point.
What if the accident already occurred?
If you did not refuse to work, and then a construction site accident occurred, seek medical help immediately. After that, a lawyer can advise you of your rights and options.