Every worker is entitled to a safe and healthy work atmosphere. This means that workers should not feel that they are at risk of serious harm or safety while on the job.
Whether by representative (a person acting in an authorized capacity of an employee bargaining unit or lawful representative capacity) or as a concerned employee, you have the right to ask OSHA to inspect a workplace for health or safety hazards.
Before filing a complaint, it is important to take any appropriate steps to initiate communication with your boss or manager prior to filing a complaint. It helps to show that dialogue has been started, but unresolved. However, workers may still file a complaint with OSHA and ask for an inspection or investigation.
Workers do not have to know whether specific OSHA standards have been violated in order to file a complaint. However, OSHA recommends having knowledge of some information that may be useful to OSHA when receiving a complaint. OSHA provides examples of questions that may be in a complaint. The list is a guide to help you provide as much accurate information as possible:
- How many employees work at the site and how many are exposed to the hazard?
- How and when are workers exposed?
- What work is performed in the unsafe or unhealthful area?
- What type of equipment is used? Is it in good condition?
- What materials and/or chemicals are used?
- Have employees been informed or trained regarding hazardous conditions?
For a complete list of questions visit www.osha.gov.
Two types of complaints are filed: formal complaints and non-formal complaints. A formal complaint is made by a current employee or representative and meets specific Federal OSHA guidelines. A non-formal complaint alleges safety or health violations but does not meet the guidelines for a formal complaint. Under OSHA, whistleblower protection provisions are in place to protect those wishing to file a workplace safety or health complaint. The provisions also refer to sources making a referral to OSHA based on a formal complaint. No employer has the right to ask who filed (under the protection provisions), and prohibits retaliation against any who file a complaint by firing, demoting, discriminating against or transferring said employee(s). Employees who feel they have been retaliated against, for filing a complaint with OSHA, have between 30-180 days, directly after an act of retaliation, to file under state laws.
There are three ways to file a complaint with OSHA: online via the OSHA complaint form, via fax or mail to a regional or area office or by telephone to 1-800-321-OSHA.
Where to go for more information.
For the updated list of OSHA requirements for filing a complaint and to understand your work site health and safety rights, visit: www.osha.gov.
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