OSHA to Begin Accepting Worker Complaints On-line

Beginning today, workers can use the Internet to file complaints to OSHA\r\nabout safety and health hazards at their workplace.

Beginning today, workers can use the Internet to file complaints to OSHA about safety and health hazards at their workplace.

OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress said the move was prompted by the growing number of Americans who have Internet access and their willingness to conduct business electronically.

According to Jeffress, "The Workers'' Page," will be an on-line resource that gives employees an electronic option for filing formal complaints.

Previously, employees had to either call or write OSHA when alleging workplace hazards.

The Workers'' Page is available on OSHA''s Web site at www.osha.gov.

Jeffress made the announcement on Workers'' Memorial Day, held annually since 1988 to remember the nearly 60,000 men, women and children who die each year from either occupational accident or illness.

"Workers play a vital role in identifying workplace hazards, and, whenever possible, working with their employer to correct them," said Jeffress. "And many times employers will promptly fix the hazards. But if they don''t, workers can file a complaint with OSHA by telephone, fax, letter or now electronically through our Web site."

OSHA said the easy-to-use system requires complainants to enter a few fields of information, including their name and telephone number and the employer''s name, a description of the hazard and its location.

OSHA estimates that it takes about 10 minutes to complete the on-line complaint form and send it.

The form is automatically transmitted for follow-up to the appropriate office within the complainant''s state.

In addition to providing a vehicle for filing complaints on-line, The Workers'' Page" also contains important background information about worker rights and employer responsibilities.

All on-line complaints are investigated and many can be resolved informally -- usually by telephone and fax -- with the employer, according to OSHA.

Those complaints not formally resolved are likely to result in on-site inspections of the facilities by the agency.

Complainants concerned about their confidentiality are urged to use either a home computer or a publicly accessible computer, such as those found at local libraries, said OSHA.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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