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Can you ask for an OSHA inspection?

As a worker, the first thing you'll probably do if there's a workplace hazard is to go to your boss or immediate supervisor. You'll note the issue and ask for changes to be made to keep you and other workers safe. But what if your boss does nothing and the company leaves the unsafe conditions in place? Do you have any other options?

You absolutely do. Workers can ask for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to carry out their own inspection. If they find serious issues, they can then force the company to make changes, level fines, and more.

Now, you may naturally be worried that you'll lose your job. If your employer refused to make changes, there is probably a reason, and it may be financial. Asking for an inspection and forcing those changes to be made could be costly for your employer, especially if there are fines, and your employer may be angry that employees went over his or her head like that.

What you should know is that you can make these complaints confidentially. Your employer doesn't have to know that you logged the complaint, and OSHA won't reveal it if you ask for your identity to be kept a secret.

In addition, any retaliation against workers is also illegal. If you ask for an inspection and then you are harassed, demoted, fired, given a pay cut, or otherwise retaliated against, your employer has broken the law. You have protections even if they know you were the one who complained.

As you can see, modern workers have a lot of power and many legal rights. Be sure you know what yours are to ensure that your workplace is safe.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Workers' Rights," accessed Dec. 23, 2016

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