How workplace safety complaints are handled

If you believe that your workplace is unsafe in any way, it is important that you take action for the sake of yourself and your coworkers. While it is always best to approach your employer directly about the safety concerns that you have, there may be a situation in which you do not think that your employer is taking your concerns seriously.

In a situation where there is imminent danger or when your employer is not taking action in response to your safety concerns, it is appropriate to contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

What happens when I make a complaint to OSHA?

When you file a complaint with OSHA, they will evaluate the specifics of your complaint in order to determine the best way to move forward. They might want to conduct an inspection on site, especially if there is reason to believe that there is immediate danger present. Alternatively, they may decide that an off-site investigation is the most appropriate course of action.

What happens if my employer finds out that I made the complaint?

As an employee, you have the legal right to report instances of compromised safety to the government. When you do this, you are classed as a whistleblower under the law. This means that it would be unlawful for your employer then to take action and fire you or punish you for taking such an action.

If you have reason to believe that your working environment is unsafe in any way, or if you have been injured due to unsafe working conditions, make sure that you are aware of your rights to protection from retaliation and compensation.

Source: OSHA, "Federal OSHA Complaint Handling Process," accessed May 04, 2018

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