Is Your Workplace Unsafe? How to File a Health and Safety Complaint
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) gives workers the right to safe working conditions. Employers are obligated under the act to create and maintain workplaces that are free of known dangers that could harm their employees.
Among the other worker rights under OSHA, the law gives workers the right to report to federal regulators at the US Department of Labor any unsafe or unhealthy conditions at work.
Who can file an OSHA complaint?
Most workers in the US are covered by OSHA and can exercise their rights under the law. This includes private sector employees and those who work for federal, state and local governmental entities. Any covered worker – or a worker representative like a union official -- can file a complaint about a workplace condition and request an OSHA inspection.
Should you notify your employer first of any unsafe or unhealthy working condition?
If you think a condition at your workplace is unsafe or unhealthy, OSHA recommends that you first notify your employer about it (if possible) and give the company a reasonable opportunity to remedy the situation. This can often be the fastest way to eliminate a hazard at work. If your employer fails to take corrective action or does not fully remedy the unsafe condition, you should consider filing a complaint with OSHA.
What are the ways to file a complaint with OSHA to request an onsite inspection?
A complaint filed with OSHA about a hazardous condition or rule violation can trigger an onsite safety and health inspection of your workplace. Workers have the right to ask for an inspection on a confidential basis – i.e. without OSHA telling their employer who filed the complaint. More importantly, it is a violation of OSHA for an employer to fire, demote, transfer or retaliate in any way against a worker who files complaint or exercises other OSHA rights.
By fax or mail
Download the OSHA complaint here https://www.osha.gov/oshforms/osha7.pdf (or request a copy from your local OSHA regional or area office), fill it out, and then fax or mail it to your nearest OSHA regional office.
Colorado is located in OSHA’s Region VIII and currently, the regional office is in Denver. Written complaints reporting a serious hazard, signed by a current worker or representative and submitted to the closest OSHA area office are given priority. They are usually more likely to result in on-site OSHA inspections. A worker can request on the form that OSHA not let their employer know who filed the complaint.
By online submission
Fill out the form at www.osha.gov/pls/osha7/eComplaintForm.html and submit it by hitting the “SEND” button when complete. Complaints sent online are typically investigated with a phone call or fax to the employer about the hazard and not with an actual inspection.
Call your regional OSHA office (or OSHA’s main number at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742)) and speak to a staff person who can discuss your complaint and answer your questions. If the hazardous condition is an emergency or immediately life threatening, call your OSHA regional office.
What happens after filing a complaint?
The OSHA area director reviews all complaints from employees and if he/she decides not to inspect the workplace, a letter is sent to the employee explaining the decision and the reasons for it. Employees then have the right to request a review of the decision by the OSHA regional administrator.
If OSHA does conduct an inspection, but decides not to issue a citation or violation notice to the employer, the employee has a right to further clarification from the area director and an informal review by the regional administrator.
About Levine Law
You need a Colorado Springs workers compensation attorney if you’ve been injured on the job. If you have not yet made a worker’s comp claim or your claim has been denied, a lawyer at Levine Law can help you get the money you need to pay your bills and recover from your injuries. And our no/win, no/fee policy means that you pay nothing to Levine Law unless you receive compensation. Contact for a free consultation.