Denver workers in health care and other industries generally understand that the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration helps enforce the laws that protect them on the job and hold employers accountable for unsafe working conditions. But the federal agency may seem distant and far-removed from the realities of the workday in Denver. What should an employee do when it becomes necessary to file a safety and health complaint with OSHA?
First, it’s important to understand that filing a complaint is a right afforded to workers under federal law. You also do not need to be able to articulate what law or standard is being broken, if any. You do, however, need to file a complaint in a timely manner, because OSHA cannot take action if it has been more than six months since the issue was addressed or resolved.
When you do have a current or recent matter about which you want to notify OSHA, you can use the agency’s online complaint form. This form requires basic information about the work location, a description of the hazard and the specific location where it exists. It will also require your name and employment status, although you can choose whether you’d like OSHA to withhold your name as source of the complaint from your employer.
Reporting safety and health issues to OSHA can help prevent a workplace accident, but it has additional implications as well. When accidents and injuries do occur, a documented history of OSHA complaints can help support a claim for workers’ compensation. It can even serve as evidence in a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent employer.