Safety and OSHA News

Top 10 industries for OSHA complaints

More than one out of every five OSHA inspections result from employee complaints. Is your industry one of the top 10 that generate the most complaints?

Here’s the list of the top 10 industries with workplace complaints to OSHA in fiscal years 2009 and 2010 (the first number is the Standard Industrial Classification — SIC, the second is the number of complaints in the two-year period):

  1. 1761 – Roofing, Siding, & Sheet Metal Work, 904
  2. 4311 – United States Postal Service, 466
  3. 1542 – General Contractors, Nonresidential Buildings Other Than Industrial Buildings, 414
  4. 1799 – Special Trade Contractors, Not Elsewhere Classified, 273
  5. 1522 – General Contractors Residential Buildings, Other Than Single-Family, 252
  6. 5812 – Eating Places, 232
  7. 1741 – Masonry, Stone Setting & Other Stone Work, 224
  8. 3499 – Fabricated Metal Products, Not Elsewhere Classified, 207
  9. 4225 – General Warehousing & Storage, 205, and
  10. 1794 – Excavation Work, 198.

The percentage of OSHA inspections that are due to complaints rose slightly from 2010 to 2011 from 20% to 21%.

Employees can now submit their complaints via snail mail, phone, fax and electronically.

OSHA says it will conduct an inspection about an employee’s complaint if at least one of the following conditions it met:

  • a violation of an OSHA standard is likely to exist that exposes employees to physical harm
  • a recordkeeping deficiency indicates the existence of a potentially serious safety or health violation
  • a permanently disabling injury or illness has occurred as a result of a hazard noted in the complaint
  • an imminent danger exists
  • the information concerns a facility and an alleged hazard covered by a local, regional or national emphasis program or the Site-Specific Targeting Plan
  • an employer fails to provide an adequate response to an OSHA inquiry following a complaint
  • the facility has a history of egregious, willful, failure-to-abate or repeat citations during the past three years or is in the Severe Violators Enforcement Program
  • an employee alleges he was discriminated against for complaining about safety or health conditions in the workplace, or
  • the complaint gives reasonable grounds to believe that an employee under 18 is exposed to a serious safety or health hazard.

Of course, the best way to avoid employee complaints that lead to OSHA inspections: Reassure employees that you have an open-door policy about their safety concerns, and that they can bring those potential problems to you without fear of retribution. And after hearing concerns from employees, follow up with them about how you’ve addressed the situation.

How do you make sure employees bring their safety concerns to you or their direct supervisor? What is your system for addressing safety concerns? Let us know in the Comments Box below.

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  1. Gunny Shrek says:

    We have an open door policy to the extent that employees feel they can walk right in to the head office and make complaints. The problem is that if they don’t get what they think is “the right answer”, they call OSHA. Or they go to the union and the union calls OSHA. We have had OSHA out to our facility twice within a month “due to employee complaints of “imminent danger””. Only to have the CSHOs findings of other than serious or deminimus. We train all employees in a OSHA 10-hour class and supervisors, managers, union reps, and safety monitors receive a 30-hour class. We thought it was “the right thing to do” by inviting the union, only to have it “come back to bite us” as some managers stated. I explained to them that as long as we continue “doing the right thing” we should welcome OSHA with open arms. After all if you have nothing to hide why sweat the small stuff.

  2. We developed a form called “Unsafe Condition / Unsafe Act “. Every employee is encouraged to submit any unsafe conditions or unsafe acts within the company. When an employee is evaluated, if he or she has turned in any, thats a “brownie Point’ for them. They earn points for every incident they turn in and can redeem those points for shirts, hats, ect.

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