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Workplace safety whistleblowing: Know your rights

When you are concerned about the safety of your workplace or you think that you or your colleagues may be in imminent danger, your first thought might be to place a complaint, either with your employer, or with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). However, your second thought may be concern or fear that this type of complaint, otherwise known as whistleblowing, may place your job in jeopardy.

This blog will provide a brief overview into your workers' rights to be a whistleblower, and to make complaints to ensure workplace safety for yourself and your colleagues.

What are my rights?

If you are concerned about the safety of your workplace, you have the right to file a complaint with OSHA. You also have the right to file a complaint if your employer retaliates against you; for example, if your employer fires you in relation to your actions in creating concern around workplace safety.

There are many laws enforced by OSHA that protect workers, and each law relates to a specific industry or hazard. The laws also require that you file a complaint within a certain number of days after the incident that you witnessed.

Filing a complaint

If you are in a situation where an employer retaliated against you when you were acting within your legal rights by expressing concern about workplace safety, then you should contact OSHA. You must do this as soon as possible after the incident of retaliation takes place. You can file a complaint by contacting your nearest OSHA office or online.

Source: OSHA, "Whistleblower rights," accessed Aug. 24, 2017

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