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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the department responsible for creating and enforcing safety protocols to protect workers in the United States. Every employee has the right to work in an environment that is safe and follows the safety protocols. More often than not, these requirements are ignored and lead to an employee being injured. The workers’ compensation process is already tough, but it’s even more difficult if you believe your employer has violated OSHA requirements. If you work for the federal government and you would like to file a complaint, you will report it to the federal OSHA department. However, if you are an employee of state or local government in California or you are considered a private employee who works in California, you are covered by Cal/OSHA and will report complaints to them. Our Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Attorneys will tell you everything you need to know and guide you through the process of filing a complaint with OSHA.
What is Cal/OSHA?
The Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA, is the department in charge of monitoring and improving the health and safety of workers in California. Cal/OSHA is in charge of creating and enforcing standards, outreach, and issuing permits, licenses, certifications, registrations, and approvals. Cal/OSHA has an enforcement branch that is responsible for investigating complaints and accidents. Typical complaints include workplace hazards or serious violations received from employees or law enforcement. Cal/OSHA also investigates workplace accidents that result in serious injury, illness, or death.
What are the most frequently cited OSHA violations?
Every year, OSHA publishes a list of the most frequently cited OSHA standards. Some of this year’s most frequently cited OSHA standards included:
- Fall protection
- Respiratory protection
- Eye and face protection
- Hearing protection
- Asbestos and other dangerous substances (exposure prevention)
- Hazard communication
How do you file a complaint with Cal/OSHA?
If you have a concern about your workplace safety or health hazards, the California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973 gives you the right to file a complaint against your employer. When you submit a complaint, your name is kept confidential unless you request to include it.
You can file a complaint by calling or emailing the nearest Cal/OSHA district office. The Sacramento District Office phone number is (916) 263-2800. Cal/OSHA recommends you gather as much information as possible for your call, especially the following information:
- Your name, address, phone number, and email address
- The name, type of business, address, and telephone number of the worksite
- The name and job title of the worksite manager
- Number of employees
- Equipment and chemicals used at the worksite
- A detailed description of the hazard involved in the complaint
- Tasks performed near the hazard and length of time to perform the task
- Number of employees exposed or injured by the hazard and whether they received medical treatment or not
- How long the hazard has existed and how long you expect it to last
- If the employer knows about the hazard and if the employer has tried to correct it
- How long the hazard is expected to continue
After filing a complaint, Cal/OSHA will determine if your claim is valid and if an investigation is necessary to evaluate your claim. If your claim is a result of death or serious physical harm, Cal/OSHA will investigate your claim immediately. If your complaint is serious but did not result in death, Cal/OSHA will typically open an investigation within three days of receiving the complaint. However, if your claim is not a serious violation, Cal/OSHA can wait up to two weeks to open an investigation.
Who can file an OSHA complaint?
Any employee who experienced or has witnessed a violation of a health or safety code can file a complaint with OSHA. OSHA protects employees when they file complaints against their employers and forbids employers from firing those employees. An employee can also authorize a representative, like their spouse, attorney, social worker, government officials, or labor organization to file a complaint. If you have been retaliated against for filing an OSHA complaint, you have the right to file a discrimination complaint.
Some occupations are not covered by OSHA. Industries like mining, transportation, nuclear energy, and weapons manufacturers are not covered by OSHA because there are other federal laws that manage workers’ safety.
If you have been subjected to unsafe working conditions and need help filing a complaint, contact a Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Attorney for a free consultation. We can explain the difference between OSHA and Cal/OSHA, the most frequently cited OSHA violations, and how to file a complaint with Cal/OSHA. If you want to learn more about your options, contact one of our lawyers at Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Attorneys, P.C.