Under federal and state laws, employers are required to provide their employees with a safe work environment. If working conditions are unsafe, a worker may report the violation to their employer, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), or in some cases, they may also refuse to work.
The federal OSH Act allows employees to file complaints about hazardous job conditions, including requests for on-site inspections. An OSHA complaint should only be filed if the employee has judged that the results will be positive. An OSHA complaint should be considered one tactic among others for preventing and eliminating hazardous working conditions.
Before filing a complaint with OSHA, consider the following:
- Talk to your union – Unions are experienced in negotiating with employers over a range of issues. A union can also judge whether an issue is hazardous, discuss the issue with the employer, file an OSHA complaint, and provide legal help to prevent retaliation by an employer.
- Discuss the issue with coworkers – If you do not have a union, discuss the issue with your fellow employees. A hazardous issue will likely affect more than just one person.
- Bring the issue to the attention of the employer if possible – Employers are required to provide a safe and hazard-free workplace. Discuss your concerns with your employer and allow for appropriate response time. Despite OSHA providing anti-retaliation provisions, some employers may still retaliate against an employee who makes complaints, so use your best judgment.
- Speak with OSHA before filing a complaint – OSHA inspectors in local offices are often familiar with the industry you work in and the company you work for. They can give advice on making the strongest case for an inspection, but make sure to emphasize that you are not filing a formal complaint. However, if the situation is serious, it is possible that the inspector will want to take immediate action.
There are many good reasons to call OSHA, especially if you or your coworkers are in imminent danger, you have reported dangerous conditions to your employer and received an unfavorable outcome, or you feel that alerting your employer would be too risky. It is important to remember that OSHA standards do not cover every hazard, including indoor air quality or extreme working temperatures. OSHA complaints are also handled on level of severity, with complaints that place workers in situations that are an imminent danger and incidents that were catastrophic and/or had fatalities taking precedence.
Workers can file an OSHA complaint in person, by telephone, mail, fax, or through their website. OSHA will take the complaint and determine if it is valid and if it requires an off-site telephone investigation or an on-site inspection. Typically, to instigate an on-site investigation, a complaint must be signed by a current employee or their representative. Complaints may remain anonymous; however, OSHA will usually send a fax or make a phone call to the employer in these cases. The employer then has five (5) days to correct the issues. If the issue is not corrected, or the employer states there was no problem, the employee should contact OSHA again.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to negligence on the job site or a defective product, an experienced personal injury lawyer can review your claim and determine if there were unsafe working conditions, potential OSHA violations, and other hazards that may have existed at the time of your accident. They will also determine who may be liable for your injuries and damages and what compensation you may be entitled to.
We at Mike Agruss Law are proud to serve our fellow citizens in personal injury cases, especially when you or a loved one has been injured, and we are fully committed to protecting your rights and ensuring that the other party is held legally accountable when negligence occurs. We will fight until the very end to ensure that you are fully compensated for all injuries and losses resulting from the accident, including medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering, and you won’t owe us a dime for our services.
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