Employees have the right to refuse dangerous work

The Mayfield candle factory workers had every right to leave the evening of Dec. 11 when a tornado struck town. To date, 9 employees have died from injuries suffered that night.

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Columnists

December 23, 2021 - 9:16 AM

A woman walks away from what is left of the Mayfield Consumer Products Candle Factory after it was destroyed by a tornado in Mayfield, Kentucky, on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021. (John Amis/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

The massive tornadoes that struck in mid-December claimed the lives of more than a dozen workers at an Amazon warehouse in Illinois and the Mayfield candle factory in Kentucky. Some of the surviving workers said their requests to leave were met with threats of termination.

None of this should have happened. In fact, it’s against the law.

Section 5 of the Occupational Safety & Health Act of 1970, which was signed by Republican President Richard Nixon, created what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration calls the “Workers’ Right to Refuse Dangerous Work.” The Act covers most private sector and some public sector workers.

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