You have the right to request an inspection by reporting dangerous working conditions to OSHA without your employer knowing. However, Section 8(f)(1) of the OSH Act guarantees your anonymity only if you request it. When you do, OSHA cannot put your name on any documents associated with your complaint and subsequent investigation, or reveal your identity to your employer. The whistle blower statute of the OSH Act also protects you from losing your job or from discrimination at work because you filed a complaint.
Prepare Your Case
OSHA recommends notifying your employer of a problem as a first step. However, you may exercise your right to file a complaint without approaching management.
Take time to gather all the information OSHA needs before you call or file the complaint form. The details you provide help OSHA determine the urgency for an inspection. For example, know specifics of the hazard, such as the location, the work done, equipment used, and chemicals or materials involved. Check OSHA's Establishment Search to learn if OSHA previously issued a citation or inspected your company for the same problem.
OSHA may want to know the number of employees exposed to the hazard, the shifts they work and any related medical treatment or near misses they experienced. If you talk to co-workers to get any of this information, OSHA protects your identity from your employer. You can confirm what evidence you need to support your request for an inspection by calling your regional OSHA office, or state-run OSHA agency. Tell the OSHA representative your call must remain confidential because you don't want your employer to know your name.
Reporting an Emergency
Call OSHA immediately when working conditions could kill you or threaten your health. OSH Act Section 13(a) calls this hazard an imminent danger. According to the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, imminent danger situations are a top priority for OSHA.
Tell the agent who answers your call that you wish to remain anonymous, but give her your name to make your complaint credible. The agency is obligated to respect your request.
For hazards that are not imminent dangers, you may complain by phone, fax or mail. Whether you call, fax or mail, tell OSHA you do not want your name revealed to your employer to keep your report anonymous. Have your information on hand when you call so you can answer the agent's questions. You may call:
Although calling may be faster, OSHA advises that written complaints signed by employees and filed with an OSHA regional office increases the chances of an inspection. You can either write a letter or fill out the OSHA Form 7 Notice of Alleged Safety or Health Hazards and fax or mail it to the closest OSHA regional or area office or state-run OSHA agency. To get the address or fax number for the office that handles your location, call OSHA and enter your company's zip code.
Check the ''Do NOT reveal my name to my Employer'' box on the form, or put the same words in your letter to remain anonymous.
- Occupational Safety & Health Administration: OSH Act of 1970; Sec. 11 Judicial Review
- Occupational Safety & Health Administration: How to File a Complaint With OSHA
- Occupational Safety & Health Administration: Contact Us
- National Council for Occupational Safety and Health: When to Call OSHA
- AFL-CIO: How to File an OSHA Complaint