Workers often assume that they can never refuse to do a task when instructed to do it by their boss. They believe they agreed to take the job and so they have to do whatever they’re told while they’re on the clock, or they’ll be fired.
This is true in some senses, but there is a divergence from this line of thinking when considering dangerous jobs. You do not have to do something that is excessively dangerous, as long as you honestly believe you may be hurt and you want your employer to make safety-related changes before you engage in that activity.
The first step to take: Asking for a change
One thing to note is that you need to ask your employer to remove that danger before refusing to work. You need to give them a chance to make it safe. If they won’t do it, then you have the chance to opt out of that task.
For instance, maybe you need to fix an outlet. You want to cut the power to the circuit before working on it. Your employer notes that this will cause production to grind to a halt and insists that it’s safe enough to do it live. You disagree, knowing that it’s excessively dangerous to work with live wires, even if you’re experienced. You can refuse to do the job on those grounds.
You can’t prevent all injuries
This is one way to avoid workplace injuries, but you can’t prevent them all — or see them all coming. If you do get injured on the job, you need to know what rights you have.