Posted on: July 11, 2024

How To File a Safety Complaint With OSHA

How To File a Safety Complaint With OSHA

Every worker deserves a safe and healthy work environment. But what happens when your workplace presents hazards that threaten your wellbeing? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) exists to empower employees like you to address these concerns. This blog will guide you through everything you need to know about filing a safety complaint with OSHA.

What is Considered an "Unsafe" or "Unhealthy" Condition?

Unsafe or unhealthy conditions in the workplace can include a wide range of hazards that pose risks to employees' safety and well-being. These may include but are not limited to:

  • Physical Hazards: Such as machinery without safety guards, exposed electrical wires, slippery floors, or inadequate lighting.
  • Chemical Hazards: Improper storage or handling of hazardous chemicals, lack of ventilation in areas where toxic substances are present, or failure to provide proper personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Biological Hazards: Exposure to infectious agents, such as viruses or bacteria, inadequate sanitation practices, or improper disposal of biological waste.
  • Ergonomic Hazards: Poorly designed workstations, repetitive motion tasks leading to musculoskeletal disorders, or improper lifting techniques.
  • Psychosocial Hazards: Workplace bullying, harassment, excessive workload leading to stress, or lack of proper mental health support.

Identifying and addressing these hazards is crucial for maintaining a safe and healthy work environment.

Who Is in Charge of Complaints?

OSHA, a federal agency under the United States Department of Labor, is responsible for overseeing workplace safety and health regulations. OSHA ensures that employers comply with these regulations to protect the rights of workers and prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.

When Do I Need to File a Complaint?

You should file a complaint with OSHA if you believe that your workplace is not complying with safety and health standards or if you have encountered unsafe or unhealthy conditions that put you or your colleagues at risk. Whether it's a one-time occurrence or a persistent issue, timely reporting is essential to address the problem effectively.

How Do I File a Complaint?

Filing a complaint with OSHA is a pretty straightforward process. Some general steps include:

  • Gathering Information: Document details of the unsafe or unhealthy conditions, including the location, nature of the hazard, and any incidents or injuries resulting from it.
  • Contacting OSHA: You can file a complaint online, by phone, or by mail. Visit OSHA's official website or call the OSHA hotline to initiate the complaint process.
  • Providing Details: When filing the complaint, be prepared to provide specific information about the hazards you've observed, the affected employees, and any previous attempts to address the issue internally.
  • Following Up: After filing the complaint, OSHA will typically investigate the allegations. Follow up with OSHA if you have additional information or if the situation worsens.

Are OSHA Complaints Anonymous?

Yes, OSHA allows complainants to remain anonymous if they choose. However, providing your contact information can facilitate communication with OSHA during the investigation process and may lead to a more effective resolution. Rest assured that OSHA takes confidentiality seriously and will not disclose your identity without your consent.

What Do I Do If My Work Retaliates?

Retaliation against employees for filing a safety complaint with OSHA is illegal under Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) of 1970. This law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the OSH Act, including the right to report unsafe working conditions to OSHA or to participate in OSHA inspections, proceedings, or hearings.

Under Section 11(c), it is illegal for employers to:

  • Discriminate against or retaliate against employees for filing safety complaints with OSHA.
  • Discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, or otherwise discriminate against employees who engage in protected activities under the OSH Act.
  • Take adverse actions against employees for participating in OSHA inspections, investigations, or other OSHA-related activities.

Employees who believe they have faced retaliation for exercising their rights under the OSH Act can file a complaint with OSHA within 30 days of the alleged retaliatory action. OSHA will then investigate the complaint and take appropriate action, which may include reinstating the employee, providing back pay, and imposing penalties on the employer for violating the law.

Take Control of Workplace Safety with

Ensuring workplace safety is a collective responsibility that requires proactive measures from both employers and employees. If you encounter unsafe or unhealthy conditions in your workplace, don't hesitate to file a safety complaint with OSHA. By taking action, you not only protect yourself and your colleagues but also contribute to fostering a culture of safety and accountability.

Are you looking to enhance your understanding of OSHA compliance and workplace safety? Our online OSHA Outreach courses offer comprehensive training tailored to your needs. Take the first step towards a safer work environment by enrolling in our courses today!