File a Complaint with Cal/OSHA

Right to File a Complaint:The California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973 gives all employees the right to file a complaint about workplace safety and health hazards with Cal/OSHA.

Names of Complainants Must Be Kept Confidential:The name of any person who submits a complaint to Cal/OSHA must be kept confidential by law, unless the person requests otherwise.

Please do not use this form to file claims for unpaid wages. Instructions to file claims for unpaid wages can be found on the Labor Commissioner webpage.

How to File a Complaint:

Contact the District Office

If you would like to report workplace safety or health hazards to Cal/OSHA, choose one of the following:

  • Telephone the Cal/OSHA Enforcement District Office closest to your worksite between 8 am and 5 pm Monday through Friday except state holidays. Cal/OSHA staff can discuss your complaint and respond to any questions you have.
  • Email the Cal/OSHA Enforcement District Office closest to your worksite. Cal/OSHA will receive your email during regular business hours and will contact you if there are questions about the complaint.

For assistance finding the closest enforcement district office in Regions 1, 2, 3 or 4 that serves your job location, use the Cal/OSHA Enforcement district office locator

Go to the Process Safety Management (PSM) webpage for contact information.

Go to the Mining and Tunneling webpage for contact information.

Additional Information

For more information on filing a complaint, please read the following:

When can a complaint be filed?

If possible, employees should try to resolve safety and health issues first by reporting them to their supervisors, managers or representative like a union. That might not be an option for all employees due to the fear of retaliation. Employees can file a complaint at any time with the closest Cal/OSHA Enforcement District Office. When Cal/OSHA investigates the complaint, your identity will be kept confidential unless you request otherwise.

Who can file a complaint with Cal/OSHA?

Anyone can file a workplace safety or health complaint with Cal/OSHA if they believe there is a violation of a safety or health standard, if there is any danger that threatens physical harm, or if an imminent hazard exists. A complaint filed by employees or their representatives is categorized as a “formal complaint.” Other people who know about a workplace safety or health hazard may file a complaint, and it will be categorized as a “non-formal complaint.” See the “How does Cal/OSHA respond to complaints” section below for how Cal/OSHA responds to these complaints.

What information must be provided to file a complaint?

Anyone who files a complaint must provide enough information for Cal/OSHA to determine that a hazard probably exists, and for Cal/OSHA to be able to respond appropriately.

Employees can report unsafe or unhealthy conditions if they think those conditions exist at their workplace. It is not necessary to know the exact Cal/OSHA standard or requirement related to the potential violation.  

It is not required to submit all of this information, but you should include as much as possible of the following when filing a complaint with Cal/OSHA:

  • Your name and contact information. Important: Cal/OSHA keeps this confidential unless you request otherwise. If you provide this information, Cal/OSHA can follow up for more information and to inform you about the complaint process.
  • Name, address, and telephone number of the employer and worksite(s)
  • Type of business or industry
  • Name and job title of the manager at the worksite
  • Detailed description of the hazard
  • The work or operation that is performed in the unsafe or unhealthful area and the equipment, materials, and chemicals used
  • If worksite is large, the specific location of the hazard
  • Number of employees working at the site, number of employees exposed to the hazard, and how close the employees are to the hazard
  • How and when employees are exposed
  • Work hours of management
  • Whether employees have been informed or trained regarding hazardous conditions
  • Work tasks performed near the hazard
  • How often and for how long employees work at the task that leads to their exposure
  • How long the hazardous condition has existed and how long you expect the hazard to continue to exist at the worksite
  • Number of work shifts, the time that each shift begins, and the shift when the hazard occurs
  • Personal protective equipment required by the employer and whether it is used by the employees
  • Whether employees have been injured or made ill as a result of this problem, and if anyone has received medical treatment for their injuries or symptoms
  • How long the hazard has existed, whether the employer knows of the hazard, and whether the employer has tried to correct the hazard
  • Describe any “near-miss” incidents
  • Any tests conducted by the employer to determine if the condition is hazardous, and the results
  • If there is an employee bargaining unit representative for the worksite, the person’s name and contact information
  • Whether an onsite inspection or investigation by letter is preferred
  • Your relationship to the employer (e.g., employee, union representative, relative of employee)
  • Your name, home address (or email address), and telephone number (optional, but if you do not provide this information, your complaint will be treated as a non-formal complaint.)

How does Cal/OSHA respond to complaints?

There are two ways that Cal/OSHA can respond to a complaint. Cal/OSHA can conduct an unannounced onsite inspection, or an investigation by letter. Cal/OSHA will decide how to respond based on the information in the complaint, including the description of the hazards.

Generally, Cal/OSHA conducts onsite inspections for complaints of serious and imminent hazards. Investigations by letter help address less serious hazards and also allow Cal/OSHA to get in touch with many employers about concerns from workers. Again, the identity of the complainant remains confidential unless the complainant requests otherwise.

For investigations by letter, Cal/OSHA informs the employer that a complaint has been filed and provides the employer a description of the alleged hazards. The employer must respond in writing within 14 days, identifying any problems found during their own investigation and noting corrective actions taken or planned. If the response is adequate, Cal/OSHA generally will not conduct an onsite inspection. For unsatisfactory responses, Cal/OSHA will conduct an onsite inspection. If the complainant who filed the original complaint provides their contact information, they will receive a copy of the employer’s response and, if not satisfied, may then request an onsite inspection.

Note: employers also have to post the letter Cal/OSHA sends in the workplace to inform other employees about the investigation.

Are employees involved in Cal/OSHA inspections?

Employees and their representatives have the right to accompany the Cal/OSHA inspector during the inspection and can also talk to the inspector in private.

The Cal/OSHA inspector is required to interview several employees in private. Employees are encouraged to point out hazards, describe accidents or illnesses that resulted from those hazards and relate past employee complaints about hazards. Employees should also inform the inspector if working conditions are not as they usually exist in the workplace. The inspector will also allow employees to talk to them at another time if it is more convenient.

What happens after the inspection or investigation?

After Cal/OSHA conducts an onsite inspection, the inspector sends a letter to the employee or employee representative who filed the complaint, informing them of the findings, including copies of any citations issued. The employer must also post copies of any citations at or near the location of the violation. This notifies all employees in the area of the hazard so they understand the need to correct the unsafe conditions and the schedule for correction.

For investigations by letter, the employer must post a copy of the Cal/OSHA letter notifying of alleged safety or health hazards along with their response. This also must be posted at or near the affected location so that affected employees are aware.

Can I be punished or discriminated against for filing a complaint?

Employees have the right to file a complaint with Cal/OSHA without fear of retaliation or discrimination. Some examples of retaliation are firing, demotion, transfer, layoff, losing opportunity for overtime or promotion, exclusion from normal overtime work, assignment to an undesirable shift and denial of benefits such as sick leave or vacation time.

The California Labor Commissioner’s Office investigates employee complaints of employer retaliation against those who file complaints with Cal/OSHA. If you believe your employer has treated you unfairly because you exercised your safety and health rights, contact the office of the California Labor Commissioner nearest to you right away or call the general line 833-526-4636.

June 2023