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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):
- 1761 – Roofing, Siding, & Sheet Metal Work, 904
- 4311 – United States Postal Service, 466
- 1542 – General Contractors, Nonresidential Buildings Other Than Industrial Buildings, 414
- 1799 – Special Trade Contractors, Not Elsewhere Classified, 273
- 1522 – General Contractors Residential Buildings, Other Than Single-Family, 252
- 5812 – Eating Places, 232
- 1741 – Masonry, Stone Setting & Other Stone Work, 224
- 3499 – Fabricated Metal Products, Not Elsewhere Classified, 207
- 4225 – General Warehousing & Storage, 205, and
- 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.