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Filing a Complaint
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 gives employees the right to file complaints about workplace safety and health hazards. Further, the Act gives complainants the right to request that their names not be revealed to their employers. Complaints from employees and their representatives are taken seriously by OSHA.
If you would like to report hazards at your worksite to OSHA, or you have been discriminated against on the basis of safety and health issues, choose one of the following:
* File a complaint, online if you believe your working conditions are unsafe or unhealthful. (Note: Most online complaints are addressed by OSHA's phone/fax system. That means they may be resolved informally over the phone with your employer. Written, signed complaints submitted to OSHA Area or State Plan offices are more likely to result in onsite OSHA inspections; see complaint handling process. Complaints from workers in OSHA-approved state plan states will be forwarded to the appropriate state plan for response.) If you are concerned about confidentiality, you may prefer to file your complaint from your home computer or a computer in your local library.
NOTE: In order to view and print the complaint form, you must have the Adobe Acrobat Reader on your computer.
When can a complaint be filed?
When Can a Complaint Be Filed?
Who Can Complain?
What Information Must the Employee Provide?
Because it is important to give as much complete and accurate information as possible about an alleged hazard, answers to the following types of questions may be useful:
* How many employees work at the site and how many are exposed to the hazard?
The following are some additional specific questions for health hazards:
* Has the employer conducted any tests to determine if employees are exposed
to the hazardous condition or substance?
(Note: It is not necessary to have the answers to all the questions in order to file a complaint. The list is provided here as a guide.)
How does federal OSHA Respond to Complaints?
Although every worker has a right to receive an onsite inspection if certain conditions are met, there are times when a phone/fax (or letter) investigation may be a better alternative. OSHA responds more quickly to lower priority hazards using a phone/fax approach. This enables the agency to concentrate resources on the most serious workplace hazards. Employees who request a phone/fax investigation do not give up the right to request an on-site inspection of potential violations and hazards if they are not satisfied with the investigation. Workers should call their nearest OSHA Area Office to discuss their options.
If an off-site investigation is appropriate, the agency telephones the employer, describes the alleged hazards and then follows up with a fax or letter. The employer must respond in writing within five days, identifying any problems found and noting corrective actions taken or planned. If the response is adequate, OSHA generally will not conduct an inspection. The employee or employee representative who filed the original complaint will receive a copy of the employer's response and, if still not satisfied, may then request an on-site inspection.
If the employee or employee representative files a written complaint that meets certain conditions described in OSHA Directive CPL 2.115, or a state plan's equivalent procedures, then OSHA may conduct an on-site inspection. Those conditions include claims of serious physical harm that have already resulted in disabling injuries or illnesses or claims of imminent danger situations; written, signed complaints requesting inspections; and situations where the employer provided an inadequate response to a phone/fax investigation.
What happens in states operating approved safety and health programs?