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Imminent Danger

Call (800) 321-OSHA immediately to report imminent dangers

Definition. Section 13(a) of the Act defines imminent danger as "... any conditions or practices in any place of employment which are such that a danger exists which could reasonably be expected to cause death or serious physical harm immediately or before the imminence of such danger can be eliminated through the enforcement procedures otherwise provided by this Act."

Requirements. The following conditions must be met before a hazard becomes an imminent danger:

  • There must be a threat of death or serious physical harm. "Serious physical harm" means that a part of the body is damaged so severely that it cannot be used or cannot be used very well.
  • For a health hazard there must be a reasonable expectation that toxic substances or other health hazards are present and exposure to them will shorten life or cause substantial reduction in physical or mental efficiency. The harm caused by the health hazard does not have to happen immediately.
  • The threat must be immediate or imminent. This means that you must believe that death or serious physical harm could occur within a short time, for example before OSHA could investigate the problem.
  • If an OSHA inspector believes that an imminent danger exists, the inspector must inform affected employees and the employer that he is recommending that OSHA take steps to stop the imminent danger.
  • OSHA has the right to ask a federal court to order the employer to eliminate the imminent danger.

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