Is it against the law to work in an environment with hazardous chemicals alone during the grave yard shift?

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Is it against the law to work in an environment with hazardous chemicals alone during the grave yard shift?

I just wanted to know if I have a valid case going for me and If I should go ahead and seek legal advice from an employment lawyer? First, I have been working alone by myself in a semiconductor industry for the past 3-4 years. I work 12 hours and usually work alone for most of my shift during graveyard. I also handle very hazardous chemicals without a valid certification. I could have been seriously injured on the job due to a chemical spill or leak and since I work alone in my department, I would have no one to contact or help should I have passed out unconscious. In Alameda County, CA. 

Asked on June 28, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Two different issues here:

1) Is the employer breaking the law by having you, withou a valid certification, handle dangerous chemicals alone? Very possibly; to be sure, you need to reference the safety regulations (both federal--e.g. OSHA--and state) regarding those chemicals and your industry. If they are breaking the law, it may be that they should pay a fine, have to change their process, and/or have to stop doing this work. You could contact OSHA or the state labor department to discuss the matter and/or complain.

2) Do you have a lawsuit or cause of action? No, not if you have not been injured yet; lawsuits don't allow you to recover for "might have happened" situations, only for what did happen. However, if you've been exposed to these chemicsals, there might be longer term consequences which haven't manifested yet but could give you a cause of action; you may wish to do some research on these chemcials and their effects.


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