How to report a workplace safety violation to OSHA?

  • Post last modified:December 5, 2023

Notify your supervisor or employer

  1. Identify the safety violation: Before notifying your supervisor or employer, it is crucial to clearly identify the safety violation you have observed. Ensure you have a thorough understanding of the issue, including what specific safety protocols or standards are being violated.
  2. Gather necessary evidence: Collect evidence to support your claim. This may include photographs, videos, witness statements, or any other relevant documentation that helps illustrate the safety violation. Make sure the evidence is clear and easily understandable.
  3. Prepare your concerns: Clearly articulate your concerns regarding the safety violation. Explain why it poses a risk to the well-being of employees or the overall work environment. Use concise and specific language to convey the seriousness of the situation.
  4. Schedule a meeting: Request a meeting with your immediate supervisor or employer to discuss the safety violation. Be proactive in arranging a time that is convenient for both parties. Make sure to communicate your intentions clearly, emphasizing the urgency of the matter.
  5. Present the evidence and express concerns: During the meeting, present the evidence you have gathered and provide a detailed explanation of the safety violation. Clearly express your concerns about the potential consequences if the violation is not addressed promptly.
  6. Propose solutions: Offer potential solutions or suggestions to rectify the safety violation. This showcases your commitment to resolving the issue and ensures your supervisor or employer understands that you are invested in improving the overall safety standards.

Overall, when informing your immediate supervisor or employer about a safety violation, it is essential to be clear, concise, and well-prepared. By providing evidence and explaining your concerns, you can effectively communicate the seriousness of the situation and work towards finding a resolution that prioritizes the safety and well-being of all employees.


File a complaint with OSHA

If the safety violation is not addressed by your supervisor or employer, take immediate action and file a complaint with OSHA. To do this, visit the OSHA website or call your local OSHA office. Here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Gather detailed information: Before filing a complaint, ensure that you have all the necessary information about the violation. This includes specific details about the hazard, the location where it occurred, and any relevant dates and times. Take photographs or videos if possible to provide visual evidence.
  2. Visit the OSHA website: Go to the OSHA website ( and navigate to the “File a Complaint” section. Here, you will find instructions on how to proceed with filing a complaint online. Follow the prompts and provide all the requested information. Be as specific as possible, including details about the violation, the people involved, and any actions taken by your supervisor or employer.
  3. Call your local OSHA office: If you prefer to file a complaint over the phone, locate the contact information for your local OSHA office on the website. Dial the number and explain your situation to the OSHA representative. Provide all the necessary details and answer any questions they may have. They will guide you through the process and ensure your complaint is properly documented.

Remember, it is crucial to provide accurate and detailed information to OSHA when filing a complaint. This will help them assess the severity of the violation and take appropriate action. Your complaint plays a vital role in ensuring workplace safety for both yourself and your colleagues.

What are the different categories of OSHA complaints and how are they processed?

OSHA categorizes complaints into two distinct types: inspection complaints and investigative complaints. When a complaint is received by OSHA, it prompts them to dispatch inspectors to visit the workplace in question. This thorough inspection allows the OSHA team to assess and scrutinize the reported complaint.

Once an investigation is concluded, OSHA follows up by contacting the employer. During this phase, OSHA provides a detailed account of the specific complaint and presents recommendations for resolving the issue. At this point, employers have the opportunity to respond. They can either deny the existence of the problem or acknowledge it while demonstrating their efforts to address and rectify it.

To ensure a fair and comprehensive assessment, employers are given a period of 5 days to submit their response, which allows them sufficient time to evaluate the findings, assess the recommendations, and provide their own perspective on the matter.


Cooperate with OSHA investigation

If OSHA determines that an investigation is needed, cooperate fully with their representatives. When OSHA initiates an investigation, it is important for us to demonstrate our commitment to workplace safety and our willingness to address any issues that may arise. To ensure a smooth and productive investigation process, we must provide any additional information or evidence that OSHA may require.

First, we should promptly respond to any requests made by OSHA representatives. This includes providing access to all relevant records, documents, and facilities. It is important to be transparent and forthcoming with any information they may need to conduct a thorough investigation. We should also make ourselves available for interviews or discussions with OSHA representatives, as this demonstrates our cooperation and willingness to assist them.

Additionally, we should maintain open lines of communication with OSHA throughout the investigation process. This means promptly returning phone calls, responding to emails, and providing updates as necessary. By keeping the lines of communication open, we can build a positive rapport with OSHA representatives and show our commitment to resolving any safety issues that may have been identified.

In summary, if OSHA determines that an investigation is needed, it is crucial for us to cooperate fully with their representatives. This includes providing any additional information or evidence they may require, promptly responding to their requests, and maintaining open lines of communication. By demonstrating our commitment to workplace safety and our willingness to address any concerns, we can ensure a smooth and productive investigation process.


Follow up on the complaint

To keep track of the status of your complaint with OSHA, it is essential that you follow up with them if necessary to ensure that appropriate action is being taken. We understand the importance of resolving your complaint, and we are here to guide you through the process.

Firstly, make sure you have all the necessary information at hand, including your complaint reference number and any supporting documentation. This will help you provide specific details when following up with OSHA. Contact OSHA through their preferred method, whether it be email or phone, and clearly state that you are following up on your complaint. Be polite but assertive, emphasizing your desire for a resolution.

During your communication, inquire about the current status of your complaint and ask for an estimated timeline for any further action. Take note of the name and contact information of the OSHA representative you are speaking with for future reference. If there are any additional steps or documentation required from your end, make sure to clarify this during the conversation. Finally, thank them for their assistance and confirm your understanding of the next steps to be taken. By actively following up with OSHA, you can ensure that your complaint is being addressed in a timely and appropriate manner.

Taking Action and Seeking Justice

In conclusion, we have explored the crucial steps to effectively report a workplace safety violation to OSHA. By following these guidelines, we empower ourselves with the knowledge and confidence to take action when encountering unsafe conditions. Documenting and reporting these violations not only safeguards our own well-being but also protects the collective safety of all employees. Remember, our commitment to maintaining a safe work environment is paramount, and OSHA serves as a valuable resource in ensuring that our rights are protected. Together, let us prioritize workplace safety and make a difference in creating a secure and healthy workplace for everyone.

How can OSHA violations be reported anonymously?

Reporting OSHA violations anonymously is not possible under OSHA procedures. When reporting OSHA violations, OSHA requires individuals to provide their name and contact information in order to file a complaint. However, OSHA does have measures in place to protect the confidentiality and privacy of those who come forward with complaints. While your employer will be notified of the complaint and given the opportunity to respond, your identity will remain protected. OSHA also advises against including the names of witnesses in the filed complaint to ensure their protection as well. It is important to note that filing a complaint through OSHA’s official channels, such as their online form, email, letter, or helpline is generally recommended for reporting OSHA violations effectively.

Employers who fail to comply with OSHA regulations can face various legal consequences. Firstly, they may be held liable for back pay and compensatory penalties as a result of their violations. Additionally, employers are obligated to cover the costs associated with OSHA investigations that arise due to their noncompliance. For repeated violations, civil fines can be imposed, ranging from $10,000 to $135,000. In severe instances, criminal charges may be pursued if OSHA violations result in injuries or fatalities. These consequences exist to enforce workplace safety and hold employers accountable for their responsibility to provide a safe working environment.

Expert Advice

  • Familiarize yourself with OSHA regulations: Take the time to understand the specific safety standards and requirements set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to ensure that you can accurately identify a violation
  • Document the violation: Collect evidence by documenting the safety violation you have observed. Take clear photographs or videos, gather any relevant documents, and record any witness statements if possible. This evidence will help support your report
  • Report the violation to your immediate supervisor: Notify your supervisor or manager about the safety violation you have witnessed. Provide them with a detailed explanation and any evidence you have collected. Give them a reasonable timeframe to address the issue
  • Follow the company’s internal reporting procedures: Familiarize yourself with your company’s internal reporting procedures for safety violations. This may involve filling out an incident report or submitting a formal complaint through the designated channels. Be sure to follow these procedures accordingly
  • Keep a record of your efforts: Maintain a record of your conversations, emails, or any other communication related to the safety violation and your efforts to report it. This documentation will be useful if any issues arise later on
  • Contact the appropriate OSHA office: If the safety violation is not adequately addressed by your employer, you should contact the nearest OSHA office. They can provide guidance on how to proceed and may initiate an investigation if necessary
  • File a formal complaint with OSHA: If all else fails, you can file a formal complaint with OSHA. This can be done online, by mail, or by phone. Provide all the necessary details and evidence to support your claim
  • Protect your rights: Understand that you have legal protections as a whistleblower. OSHA prohibits retaliation against employees who report safety violations. Familiarize yourself with these protections to ensure your rights are safeguarded
  • Cooperate with OSHA during the investigation: If OSHA decides to investigate the reported violation, cooperate fully. Provide them with any additional evidence or information they request and be available for any interviews or testimony
  • Stay informed on the progress: Keep track of the progress of the investigation and any actions taken by OSHA. This will help you stay involved and ensure that the safety violation is properly addressed