Many employees do not feel safe reporting conditions that are unsafe or requesting an investigation from OSHA because they fear retaliation by employers.
Unsafe work conditions should not be tolerated. However, many employees do not feel safe reporting conditions that are unsafe or requesting an investigation from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration because they fear retaliation by employers.
The Occupational Safety & Health Act of 1970 makes sure that employees who request an inspection or file a complaint against an employer are protected. Hazardous conditions that go unreported are just accidents waiting to happen. Where there is one violation there will probably be more, and employees should not be subjected to unsafe conditions when they go to work everyday. This puts both employees at risk of serious injury.
OSHA will do inspections of conditions that are reported to be hazardous or do not meet OSHA standards. The Occupational Safety & Health Act of 1970 affords employees the right to request that their names not be revealed if they prefer to file a complaint without it being made known to their employers.
OSHA will keep the request confidential and also encourages employees to report discriminatory acts by employers. If an employee feels that they have been demoted, fired, discriminated against, or fired, and feel like these actions has violated the rights you are afforded under the law, you can file a complaint with OSHA for this as well. However, it is necessary for you to act quickly. You generally must file a complaint within 30 days of the discrimination.
If you would like to file a complaint of regarding workplace conditions, contact OSHA via their website or by telephone. There are several different options for downloading and completing the forms to be returned. Emergency situations that present immediate hazards should be reported as soon as possible to OSHA by telephone.
Reporting a violation or hazard to a supervisor should be the first step, unless there is a reason why an employee feels uncomfortable doing so. If it is possible to resolve a complaint without involving OSHA this is ideal. Opening a dialogue with supervisors and alerting them to hazardous conditions may be sufficient. If it is not, contacting OSHA should be the next step.
When contacting OSHA, you should provide as much information about the working conditions that present a health risk as possible. Try to include information like the number of employees who are exposed to the hazard, what the hazard consists of, any training or lack thereof given to employees, any chemicals or materials that are used, the type of work that is performed, any accidents that have occurred, length of time that the condition has existed, etc. It is not necessary that you include all of this information, but provide as much detail as you can.
How Employers Can Make Reporting Hazards Easier
Explain the Reporting Process in the Employee Handbook
Seems simple enough, right? However, you’d be surprised how many employees don’t even know how to report a hazard. By including clear instructions in your employee handbook, you can save everyone a lot of time and confusion.
Set up an Online Reporting System
By setting up an online reporting system, you can make the process quicker and easier for everyone involved.
Provide Multiple Ways to Report Hazards
You should provide multiple ways for employees to get in touch with you. Whether it’s through email, a dedicated phone line, or even good old-fashioned face-to-face conversation, giving employees options will make it more likely that they’ll actually report the hazard.
Adopt a No-Name Policy
Nobody wants to be the “snitch,” – especially if they think it might jeopardize their job. That’s why it’s important for employers to adopt a no-name policy when it comes to reporting hazards. This way, employees can report hazards without fear of retribution.
Make Sure Employees Feel Comfortable Speaking Up
Let’s face it: sometimes, employees are hesitant to report hazards because they’re afraid of getting in trouble. If you want employees to feel comfortable coming to you with safety concerns, make sure you create a culture of open communication and trust.
Provide Training on Hazard Identification and Reporting
Nothing will make the reporting process easier than a little bit of training. Teach your employees how to identify hazards, and let them know what the expectations are for reporting them.
Act on Reported Hazards Quickly
Once a hazard has been reported, it’s important to take action as quickly as possible. This shows employees that you’re serious about safety, and it also helps to prevent accidents from happening in the first place.
Reward Employees Who Report Hazards
Last but not least, don’t forget to show your appreciation for employees who take the time to report hazards. Whether it’s a simple “thank you” or a more formal recognition program, let your employees know that you appreciate their efforts to keep the workplace safe.
By following these tips, employers can make reporting hazards easier for their employees. And when employees can report hazards easily, it creates a safer workplace for everyone.
Missouri Workers’ Compensation
If you have been injured at work, if your claim has been denied, or if you feel you have been retaliated against, you should also contact a Missouri workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your options in depth. Violating workers’ rights by expecting them to work in conditions that are hazardous or unsafe is not acceptable. Workers’ compensation attorneys will fight to protect your rights, make sure that you get the medical benefits and compensation that you are entitled to in the event of a workplace injury, and to hold employers responsible for the work environments they maintain.
To speak with a St. Louis workers comp lawyer, call the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann at (314) 361-4300. We can evaluate your case for free and help you to determine the best way to receive justice.