From time to time, you may notice or encounter conditions in the workplace that are unsafe. To help prevent injury (of yourself and your coworkers), reporting the unsafe condition is the mandatory next step.
The Occupational Safety & Health Act of 1970 gives all employees and their representatives the right to file a complaint and request that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspect the workplace to determine if OSHA standards aren’t being met, or if there is a serious hazard.
Here are some things you should know when reporting unsafe working conditions to OSHA:
- Your report is confidential. OSHA will protect you from unfair treatment by your employer if you report a workplace concern. It is against the law for an employer to fire, demote, transfer or discriminate in any way against a worker filing for a complaint or using other OSHA rights. Your information provided to OSHA will remain confidential.
- You have several options. To report unsafe working conditions to OSHA, you have several information delivery options. You can report the conditions online using the OSHA complaint form, you can download an OSHA complaint form or request a copy from your local office, then fax or mail it in, or you can call your local OSHA office to report unsafe conditions.
- You should provide specific information. You should be able to provide enough information to OSHA for them to determine whether a hazard actually exists. Directly from the OSHA website, here are some types of information you should provide to OSHA when reporting unsafe working conditions (you do not need to send all of this information):
- 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?
- What process and/or operation is involved?
- What kinds of work are done nearby?
- How often and for how long do employees work at the task that leads to their exposure?
- How long (to your knowledge) has the condition existed?
- Have any attempts been made to correct the problem?
- On what shifts does the hazard exist?
- Has anyone been injured or made ill as a result of this problem?
- Have there been any “near-miss” incidents?
More information about OSHA standards and the procedure for filing a complaint can be found on the OSHA website.