Filing a Safety Complaint with OSHA
Every worker has the right to a safe work environment. In fact, federal law requires your employer to provide a workplace that is free from recognized safety and health hazards. But how are you going to take action if there are dangerous health and safety concerns on the job? Read our latest blog to know when, where, and how to file a safety complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):
What if there are unsafe or unhealthy conditions at work?
You have the right to voice your occupational health and safety concerns without fear of retaliation. If possible, OSHA recommends that you let the employer know about the hazard immediately. You also have the right to refuse hazardous work as long as all of these conditions are met:
- You have already asked the employer to eliminate the hazard (where possible)—and your employer failed to address the issue.
- You refused to work because you genuinely believe that there’s an imminent danger.
- A reasonable individual also agreed that there’s a real and apparent threat of serious injury or death.
- Because of the urgency of the occupational hazard, there’s insufficient time to rectify the threat through regular means of enforcement (like requesting an OSHA inspection).
If the employer retaliates against you for refusing to do the hazardous task, contact OSHA as soon as possible.
When do I file a complaint?
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, you have the legal right to file a complaint if:
- You believe that there is a hazardous working condition.
- Your employer is not following safety regulations.
OSHA takes workers’ complaints seriously and keeps the complainant’s information confidential. While it is not required to know if a specific OSHA violation has been committed, it is crucial to file the complaint as soon as you are aware of the hazard or the employer’s disregard to safety compliance. Why? Because OSHA may only issue citations for currently existing violations or those that existed in the last six months.
How do I file an OSHA complaint?
There are three ways to file an OSHA complaint:
- Online – Simply fill out OSHA’s online complaint form with the necessary details. To process your complaint accordingly, be sure to provide complete and accurate information about the worksite:
- Include the name and address of the employer.
- Describe the alleged hazard(s).
- Specify when and where the supposed violation happened.
- Give an estimate of how many employees are affected.
- Fax or email – Download, complete, and submit the complaint form via fax or mail to the regional or area office that has jurisdiction over your workplace. Written complaints that are (1) signed by an employee or representative and (2) sent to the nearest area office are more likely to warrant an on-site OSHA inspection.
- Telephone – Call OSHA’s regional or area office in your locality. The staff can respond to any of your questions and discuss your complaint. If there is a life-threatening hazard or emergency, contact 800-321-OSHA immediately.
You have the legal right to request that your identity be kept confidential from the employer. In this case, OSHA will only be authorized to use your name and address to follow up regarding the complaint. Authorized representatives may also file an OSHA complaint on your behalf. Knowing your rights can make all the difference! To learn more about the laws that protect you, learn more about our OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 Outreach training programs.