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Learn How to Properly File an OSHA Report

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 establishes an unconditional right for laborers to have a safe working environment. Three major components of this legislation are workplace safety mandates, the possibility of inspections by OSHA agency employees and the right for workers to file a formal complaint if they feel that their safety and well-being is somehow jeopardized by their employer’s work practices.

Whether you are an entry-level laborer or a top-level manager following questionable directives from your firm owner, you have a right to report your company or superiors if you feel that they are placing you in danger during your work duties. These complaints can be filed anonymously, and OSHA legislation protects workers who file complaints from punitive repercussions.

Three Convenient Filing Options

In order to accommodate workers with a variety of needs or working schedules, OSHA has provided three possible ways to contact them with a formal complaint.

  1. Complaints can be filed over the internet using OSHA’s official online complaint form. Online complaints received by employees in a state that has an OSHA-approved state plan will be forwarded to the most appropriate local office. Note that online complaints are not as likely to result in a workplace inspection as written complaints that are signed by workers or a group representative.
  2. Written complaint forms can be downloaded and then mailed or faxed to the closest OSHA regional or area office. These written complaints, when signed by a worker and submitted locally, are more likely to result in an inspection or appropriate action. Please fill out contact and personal information in as much detail as possible to contribute to the usefulness of the report. All information will remain confidential.
  3. Complaints can be called in to your local or regional office using the appropriate contact number. You can speak directly to a representative who can answer your questions and discuss your complaint in detail. A formal written report will be filed and you may be asked to contribute to this report with your own personal description and information.

Emergencies and immediately life-threatening incidents can be reported to your local OSHA office or by calling 1-800-321-OSHA. Note that emergency services should be contacted in most situations to prevent further endangerment or harm and to respond to immediate medical or safety needs.

Complaints should contain as much detailed information as possible, including facts regarding:

  • The time and date of any specific incidents
  • The nature of the work performed
  • The number of employees exposed or affected by the hazard
  • Any specific injuries or “near miss” incidents
  • The time and duration of work performed during exposure to the hazard, such as a specific shift or job task
  • How much disclosure the employer granted to employees regarding the hazard and whether sincere attempts have been made to resolve the issue
  • The names or nature of any hazardous substances, dangerous equipment
  • Any other relevant details

Employee Representation

Certain employees may be eligible to have their complaint filed by a representative. Legitimate representatives include:

  • Authorized bargaining unit representatives, such as those in a recognized trade union
  • An attorney operating on behalf of an employee
  • Any other recognized social representative, such as a spouse, social worker, family member, government official, clergy member as well as any non-profit or organization responding to specific complaints or injuries
  • Outside parties who are aware of a safety or health hazard either ongoing or part of an isolated incident can report these conditions to OSHA and open up an inquiry into the situation

Discrimination Incidents

OSHA law protects employees who file a complaint from discriminatory action and retaliation for their report. Discrimination complaints must be filed within 30 days of the alleged incident. Whistleblower discrimination complaints can be filed using an online form, a printout form or via a telephone call or written letter to your closest regional OSHA office.

No worker should have to tolerate subjecting themselves to unacceptable dangers. Remind your supervisor or managers of your rights to a safe workplace and follow up on any ignored concerns as soon as possible through one of the stated avenues. You could just be saving your life as well as the lives of your coworkers.



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