As an employee, you have the right to report unsafe working conditions under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Also known as the OSHA Act, this Act allows employees to do so through their authorized representatives and request an official from OSHA to visit and inspect their workplaces for health and safety concerns.
The OSH Act requires that all employers meet and comply with the standards detailed in it. Failure to do so, employers stand the risk of incurring fines and penalties. Below, is more information on how to report unsafe working conditions to OSHA.
As mentioned above, you have the right to report unsafe or hazardous conditions existing at your workplace. Some of these hazardous conditions are:
- Lack of respirator protection
- Lack of necessary personal protective equipment
- Confined entry and exit spaces
- Lack of noise protection devices if you work in a noisy environment
- Cave-in prevention
- Fall protection
- Exposure to asbestos and other dangerous substances
- Lack of machine guarding
- Poor or no training and knowledge on safety regulations
Who Can File a Complaint?
Nearly all employees in the United States are protected by OSHA through state and federal law. Those covered include workers in private education, local government, Postal Service, organized labor, longshoring, construction, charity, medicine and law, agriculture, manufacturing, and anyone protected by federal or state safety and health plans approved by OSHA.
However, there are some occupations that OSHA does not cover. These occupations include:
- Those working in farms owned by their immediate family
- Self-employed individuals
- Those working in nuclear energy and weapon manufacturing, many transportation industries, mining, and other occupations where workers’ safety is mandated by other federal laws
- Those working for local governments and states covered by state plans that are not approved by OSHA
Authorized Employee Representatives
In case for one reason or another you are afraid of filing the complaint yourself, OSHA allows you to do so through an authorized representative. These representatives are:
- Nonprofit organizations
- Government officials
- Spouses or next of kin
- Social workers
- Members of the clergy
- Labor organizations
How to File a Complaint
There are three options an employee, representative, or anyone else who wants to report unsafe working conditions can choose from. These options include:
- Call 1-800-321-OSHA or contact your local OSHA office
- Download and fill a PDF complaint form and mail or fax it to your local OSHA Area or Regional Office
- Visit OSHA’s website, fill, and submit the e-complaint form
When Can I File a Complaint?
Even though it is your right to report any health and safety concern to OSHA, we advise that you first try to resolve it with your manager or supervisor. Doing so is the quickest and most effective way to have the issue rectified. However, if you feel like a solution won’t be achieved by reporting the matter to your workplace superiors, please go ahead and report it to OSHA. For those who are facing discrimination at the workplace as a result of filing a complaint, OSHA recommends that you report the alleged violation to them within 30 days of facing it.