Filing an OSHA complaint is considered a last resort that is used when all other methods of bringing the hazard to management’s attention have failed. Filing an OSHA complaint should also be considered if the hazard poses an immediate danger of injury or death. A complaint will usually trigger an inspection of the workplace. If violations of OSHA standards are found, then citations will be issued. The employer will be required to correct the hazards, and possibly pay a fine.
OSHA gives workers and their representatives the right to file a complaint. If you have a union, it is best to notify and work with your local union to file an OSHA complaint to ensure that union rights under the OSHAct are exercised in the event of an OSHA inspection.
Workers and the union have the right to:
- Be present during the opening conference of the inspection (where the OSHA inspector explains to the company, and the employee representative(s) why the inspection is taking place, and what will be the scope of the inspection);
- Accompany the inspector during the inspectionthe inspection; and
- Be present with management during the closing conference, or have a separate closing conference with the OSHA inspector.
The union should receive copies of OSHA citations if any are issued. In the closing conference, the OSHA inspector should be reminded that a copy of the citations should be given to the union. The citations are required to be posted at the work site for all employees to see.