The ability to report hazards or safety concerns in the workplace is part of the protection the United States provides the nation's workforce. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is responsible for receiving complaints about businesses that might be creating unsafe working conditions. OSHA then investigates these claims and provides instruction to the companies involved as to what they need to do to resolve the problem.
How to File an OSHA Complaint
You can file an OSHA complaint by calling your regional office. These offices are staffed by employees who can walk you through the filing of your grievance. If you prefer, it's also possible to file an OSHA complaint electronically. There is an online form that may be submitted via the internet. You can also print the online form and then mail or fax it to OSHA – details on the OSHA website.
What if the Situation is Serious?
If there is a life-threatening situation in your workplace, there is an OSHA hotline you may call to get immediate assistance. For less urgent situations that still pose a serious threat of harm, OSHA says that written complaints that are signed by workers and are submitted directly to an OSHA area or regional office are more likely to result in onsite inspections. As such, if you have a serious concern about a safety issue in your workplace, you might wish to file your complaint via hard copy directly to the local OSHA office.
Can You Call OSHA Anonymously?
While the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 gives workers the right to file complaints about workplace safety and health hazards, anonymous OSHA reporting is guaranteed only if you request it. When you do, your name may not appear on any documentation related to your claim. Also, OSHA may not reveal your identity to your employer. OSHA must safeguard your personal information to protect you from retaliation in the workplace.
What If My Employer Retaliates?
If you have been treated differently because you refused to work in the face of dangerous conditions or for exercising your rights to a safe workplace, you may file a discrimination claim with OSHA. As a worker, you are entitled to an environment free of hazards, and your employer is not permitted to treat you differently when you advocate for yourself. There are over 20 whistle-blower protection laws enforced by OSHA to safeguard employees against retaliation for reporting violations. If you feel that your rights have been infringed upon in this manner, you should file a complaint with OSHA. Depending on the type of retaliatory action taken and the law it is covered by, you may have anywhere from 30-to-180 days to file your claim.
File an OSHA complaint by submitting the online form on OSHA's website.
Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. Her experience includes years of work in the insurance, workers compensation, disability, and background investigation fields. In addition to being the content writer and social media manager for Alliance Worldwide Investigative Group, she has written on legal topics for a number of other clients. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (www.wordsmythcontent.com) and enjoys writing legal articles and blogs for clients in related industries.