Workers may want to report violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s standards for workplace safety, but fear that doing so may cause retaliation against them. OSHA implements standards and regulations for employers across all industries to help prevent occupational accidents. Unfortunately, however, not all employers adhere to these standards, potentially creating dangerous conditions for workers that may lead to serious injuries or death.
Knowing what to expect and understanding their rights when reporting workplace violations may help bolster workers who witness or discover such issues.
How do workers report violations?
According to OSHA, employees who believe they suffered employer retaliation after reporting safety violations may report the action to the agency. Workers may issue such complaints in person at their local OSHA office, in writing by letter or email, or online. People must file retaliation complaints within 30 days of the alleged unfavorable employment action against them.
What happens after the investigation?
Upon receipt of complaints, OSHA reviews them to ensure they meet certain basic requirements. If so, the agency investigates to determine the validity of the employees’ claims. If OSHA finds that violations occurred, the agency may take actions such as filing a lawsuit against the employer or ordering certain relief for the retaliated against workers.
How does the law protect whistleblowers?
According to OSHA, when investigations support employee claims of retaliation, the workers may receive various forms of relief. For example, these may include job reinstatement, compensation for the expenses they incurred because of the retaliation, compensation for emotional distress and payment of back pay.
Making the decision to report violations in the workplace often comes with worries and concerns for whistleblowers about how doing so may affect their jobs and lives. However, taking such important action carries protections that may help make doing so a bit easier.