If you believe conditions at your workplace are unsafe or unhealthy, you’ve got some options.
First, though: before seeking government intervention, OSHA recommends that you bring the conditions to your employer's attention, if possible.
If that doesn’t bring about changes, and you believe that there is a serious hazard in your workplace, or that your employer is not following OSHA standards, you can file a complaint. You can tell OSHA not to let your employer know who filed the complaint. It is against the Act for an employer to fire, demote, transfer or discriminate in any way against a worker for filing a complaint or using other OSHA rights.
How to file a complaint
You can file a complaint online; download the form and mail or fax it to the nearest OSHA office; or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Most complaints sent in online are resolved informally over the phone with your employer. Written complaints that are signed by a worker or their representative and submitted to the closest OSHA office are more likely to result in onsite OSHA inspections.
During an OSHA inspection...
When the OSHA inspector arrives, workers and their representatives have the right to:
- Go on the inspection.
- Talk privately with the OSHA inspector.
- Be part of meetings with the inspector and the employer before and after the inspection is conducted.
- Where there is no union or employee representative, the OSHA inspector must talk confidentially with a reasonable number of workers during the course of the investigation.
What could happen
An inspector who finds violations of OSHA standards or serious hazards may issue citations and fines. A citation includes the methods an employer must use to fix a problem and the date by when the corrective actions must be completed. Workers only have the right to challenge the deadline for when a problem must be resolved. Employers, on the other hand, have the right to contest whether there is a violation or any other part of the citation. Workers or their representatives must notify OSHA that they want to be involved in the appeals process if the employer challenges a citation.
If you send in a complaint requesting an OSHA inspection, you have the right to find out the results of the OSHA inspection and request a review if OSHA decides not to issue citations.
See OSHA’s Worker Page for more information: http://www.osha.gov/workers.html.