Reporting to OSHA: dirty workspaces

Employers are required to maintain workplaces that are free from reasonably detectable and preventable hazards. That means your employer must do their best to cover-up or warn people about trip hazards and other common issues. But, what if your employer is chronically dirty? Most people would not think of a little mess as serving a potential safety hazard. But, if you believe the mess in your workplace is substantial and a real safety hazard, you may need to drop a call with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).


OSHA is the government agency responsible for investigating workplace safety claims. OSHA is permitted to inspect any company, in any state, pursuant to a file complaint or investigation. Before OSHA investigates, they must determine that you are entitled to protection. OSHA only protects employees, in the private sector. So, OSHA will first confirm your status and identify your employer.

After confirmation, OSHA will assess the level of danger as it relates to the filth. To that end, OSHA will likely send an inspector to the worksite. OSHA is primarily concerned with the messiness that contributes to workplace dangers, like exposed wiring, weak floors, or pest infestations. You need to make sure, before filing, that your workplace is a health hazard. If it is something less than a health hazard, you might be better off speaking directly with your employer.

If you believe that the state of your workplace is so dirty that it is a possible hazard to safety or human health, then you should call a lawyer for advice. There are numerous options for you to pursue action to encourage your employer to clean-up the workplace. But you don't want to do anything too hasty; you could risk retaliation. While you are entitled to compensation if you are retaliated against, it is always easiest to avoid it entirely and still get what you want. A lawyer can help you strategize.


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