How to Report Unsafes Working Conditions

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employees have the right to report unsafe working conditions to OSHA. Furthermore, the Act allows the employee to withhold their name from the employer when filing a complaint. OSHA will respond to the complaint with either an on-site or off-site investigation.

Construction employees who wish to report unsafe working conditions or who have been discriminated against for safety or health reasons should take one of the following steps:

  • File a complaint online with OSHA. If you are concerned about confidentiality, you may choose to file your complaint from your home computer.
  • Download the OSHA complaint form, then fax or mail it to your local OSHA Regional office.
  • Call your local OSHA Regional Office to discuss your complaint.
  • File a discrimination complaint if your employer retaliated against you for refusing to work in unsafe conditions or for exercising your rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. You can file a complaint by contacting your local OSHA office. In most cases, employees can file a complaint with both the state and federal OSHA.
  • If the workplace hazard is life-threatening, call your local OSHA office or (800)-321-OSHA.

Filing a Complaint with OSHA FAQs

When can I file a complaint?

OSHA advises employees to try to resolve safety issues by first reporting them to their managers. However, an employee can contact their local OSHA regional office to request an investigation at any time.

Who can file a complaint with OSHA?

Employees or their representatives can ask for investigation if they believe there is a safety or health violation at the worksite. Any person who knows about a workplace hazard can complain, and OSHA will investigate the matter as soon as possible.

What details must the employee provide in the OSHA complaint?

The employee must provide enough information for OSHA to believe that a workplace hazard probably exists. While workers do not have to reference a specific OSHA violation, they should have the answers to the following questions:

  • How many employees were exposed to the workplace hazard?
  • How were these employees exposed?
  • When were these employees exposed?
  • What jobs duties are performed in the unsafe area?
  • Have employees been informed about hazardous working conditions?
  • What type of equipment is utilized?
  • Is the equipment in good, working condition?
  • What chemicals are used on site?
  • Has the employer taken any steps to control the workplace hazard?
  • Have any employees been treated for a work-related illness?

How will OSHA respond to complaints?

OSHA will either perform an on-site or off-site investigation. While every employee has the right to request an on-site investigation, some problems can be solved through a phone call or fax. This allows OSHA to focus on the most serious workplace hazards. Employees who receive an off-site investigation have the right to request an on-site inspection if they are not satisfied with the results of the initial investigation. These employees should contact their local OSHA Area Office to discuss their options.

If an off-site investigation is appropriate, OSHA will call the employer, detailing the supposed hazards on the jobsite. The agency will then follow up with a letter or fax. The employer then has five days to respond to OSHA, describing any hazards found on site and the actions taken to correct them. If OSHA feels the response is adequate, they usually will not conduct an on-site inspection. The employee who filed the initial complaint will receive a copy of the employer's response. If they are not satisfied, they can request an on-site inspection.

On-site investigations are usually performed in imminent danger situations; when serious hazards have already lead to disabling injuries or illnesses; and when the employer fails to provide an adequate response to an off-site investigation.