Imminent Dangers and You

Workplace dangers could cause illness, irreversible physical harm and even death.”    

Helpful tips for reducing your risk of injury at work

Any workplace hazard that puts you at an immediate risk of death or serious physical harm is considered an imminent danger. It could be a safety hazard—such as a malfunctioning forklift or no guardrail on the loading dock—or it may be a health hazard such as exposure to diesel pollution. These dangers could cause illness, irreversible physical harm and even death.

What to Do

If you encounter a safety or health hazard on the job that puts you in imminent danger of death or serious injury, notify your supervisor immediately and request a corrective action to the problem. Also request that you get protection from the hazard until it is eliminated or controlled.

Your Protection

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Labor Relations Board work together to protect employees who are punished for refusing to work in imminently dangerous situations that involve serious safety and health hazards. In addition, OSHA is available for assistance if you are discharged or disciplined for refusing to do work that would expose you to imminent danger, providing that you notified your supervisor of the hazard, the hazard has not been corrected, and there is not enough time for you to seek relief through OSHA’s standard complaint process.

Safety from Retaliation

In addition, it is illegal for  to punish you for reporting a safety or health hazard under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). This law protects you from being discriminated against, fired, demoted or otherwise penalized for any of the following:

  • Complaining to your supervisor about a hazard
  • Requesting an OSHA inspection
  • Participating in union safety and health activities
  • Otherwise exercising your rights under the OSH Act

Violation of Rights

If you believe that your rights have been violated, you must file a complaint with OSHA within 30 days of the incident. OSHA can then work with your employer to restore your job, earnings and benefits. You will also not have to pay any legal fees.