What’s a hazardous condition? Who’s responsible for it?
- March 29, 2017
According to both federal law and state law, employers must ensure that they provide a safe working environment for their employees. When you hear something like “hazardous condition,” it usually applies to hazards in the workplace. If an employee notices an unsafe working hazard, they can report it to the employer, to the state, or to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). However, it doesn’t just apply to the workplace. Hazardous conditions may also be present in any property. The owner of the property is responsible for any injuries that occur as a result of any hazardous condition present on their property that they knew about or should have known about.
What exactly is a hazardous condition?
A hazardous condition is anything that has the potential to be harmful, cause injury, or have adverse health effects on someone or something. When we are talking about a property, an example of a hazardous condition could be ice, snow, water, uneven flooring, or even poor lighting. All of these could lead someone to slip and fall and poses a health hazard. When it comes to workplace safety, the same things are also hazards. The workplace also tends to have more opportunity for hazardous conditions depending on what the business provides. In a restaurant, slips and falls happen because of spilled liquids, uneven flooring, or other situations involving the equipment provided in the restaurant.
Who is Responsible for Hazardous Conditions?
The responsibility of the hazardous condition depends on where it is. In the case that it is private property, the owner of the property is responsible for fixing the hazard. However, when it comes to the workplace, it is the responsibility of the employer to keep the workplace safe from any hazardous conditions, even if they do not own the building or property.
Hazardous Conditions in California
State laws also govern workplace safety, along with federal laws. California has Cal/OSHA, which is the state’s division of occupational health and safety. It provides that employees have a right to a safe work environment and that workers should engage in any training given to learn how to recognize and report safety hazards. There are levels of safety, and when there is a hazardous condition, it’s important to tell the employer so that they can handle it. The employer cannot retaliate for any reason.
Right to Refuse Hazardous Work
In California and many other states, employees have the right to refuse work if it is hazardous to their health and poses a safety concern. This does not mean leaving the premises. Two qualifications need to be met to ensure that the work is hazardous. One is that performing the work would violate a Cal/OSHA regulation, and the second is that the violation in question would create a “real and apparent” hazard to employees. The first step is to let the employer know and give them the opportunity to fix the hazard. If they fix it, you should return to work. If they do not, employees have the right to contact Cal/OSHA and report the hazard.
Filing a Complaint
If the employer does not fix the hazard and still expects you to work, you may contact Cal/OSHA to report it. The information is completely confident when it comes to reporting, and you only need to provide the name and address of the workplace, the exact location of the hazard, when the hazard occurs, and a brief description of what the hazard is. They will then either contact the employer via mail to notify them of the problem or do their investigation by going to the workplace.
Hazardous conditions can occur anywhere. The primary goal is to fix it as soon as possible so that no one injures themselves. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen, and it can result in injury. When there is an injury directly related to a hazardous condition, there is a case for a personal injury lawsuit. These kinds of hazardous conditions are considered negligence when they were known about and not fixed, and the injured person can receive compensation for time off of work and medical expenses depending on the severity of the injury. This is where it would be important to have a personal injury lawyer on your team, to ensure that the hazard is corrected for others, and to get help recovering from the injury.