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Leep, Tescher, Helfman and Zanze

Can you refuse to do work that seems too dangerous?

You know that there is always a chance that you could get injured at work. Even simple things, like changing a lightbulb or walking down the stairs, could lead to a serious accident. 

But what if your boss asks you to do something that really seems far too dangerous? You think it’s unwise to even try, as injury seems not just possible, but likely. Do you still have to do it? Or can you refuse?

When can you turn down a job your boss tells you to do?

The first thing you should do is tell your employer why you don’t want to do the task and why you think it’s too dangerous. They may be more than willing to take steps to make it safer. For instance, maybe they want you to work at heights without a harness. If you complain, they may relent and find a rope and harness system to prevent a fall. 

Another option is to have OSHA do an inspection. This is something you can request when forced to work in dangerous conditions. Unfortunately, it takes time, so you may not be able to have an inspection done before you have to do the job. 

In that situation, you can refuse the task. You should calmly and reasonably state your reasons to your boss. Tell them you honestly just think it’s too dangerous and you’d rather not risk it. It’s your legal right.

What if you do get injured at work?

If you did not know you could refuse the work and you got injured, or if you got injured on the job for any other reason, you have a right to workers’ compensation. If your workers’ comp claim isn’t going the way you anticipated, however, you may need the help of an experienced attorney.