Tips to Follow When OSHA Calls You
on an Employee Complaint
Ever hear of the OSHA complaint process? It's where employees - yes,
even your employees - contact OSHA and level charges against their employers.
Federal and state OSHA officials conducted 24,490 complaint/incident-related
and 16,553 referral/follow-up inspections in fiscal year 2000.
OSHA handles many complaints via a phone/fax investigation, so when that
phone call comes, followed by a fax, keep these steps in mind:
- Don't panic. The only way to at least minimize your panic is to have
a response plan already in place.
- Go into action. Review the OSHA standards cited in the letter, investigate
the allegations, determine the legitimacy of the complaint items, correct
them or put the corrections in motion.
- Act quickly. Draft your reply letter no later than three days after
you receive the phone call and fax.
- State the facts. Make no excuses. Do not raise the possibility of
a disgruntled employee. Most importantly, ask NO questions, such as:
"Will this satisfy the inquiry?"
- Provide documentation. Collect an appropriate amount of supporting
information (purchase orders, monitoring results, vendor/contractor
contact information, photographs).
- Show confidence. Close the letter by expressing your commitment to
employee safety and health, and confidently stating what has been done
to address the "allegations" contained in the complaint letter.
- Guarantee delivery. Send the letter by Certified Mail with a receipt
signature request, or by private courier.