When and How to File an Anonymous OSHA Complaint

Ensuring a safe workplace is a fundamental right under federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) laws. While reporting unsafe conditions can be daunting due to fears of retaliation, OSHA provides mechanisms for employees to voice their concerns anonymously. This article outlines the circumstances under which an anonymous complaint should be filed with OSHA and the steps to do so.

Understanding Your Rights

Before delving into the specifics of filing an anonymous complaint, it’s crucial to understand the rights afforded to workers under federal OSHA laws. One of the most basic rights is the assurance of a safe workplace. Employees can report hazards, receive training in a language they understand, access injury and illness logs, and work without fear of retaliation.

How to File an Anonymous Complaint with OSHA

Contacting OSHA should be considered a last resort after all other attempts to resolve a safety issue have been exhausted. Here are the steps you should follow before reaching out to OSHA:

  1. Report to Your Supervisor: The first step should always be to report hazards or unsafe conditions to your immediate supervisor or employer.
  2. Contact Safety or Union Representative: If the issue is not addressed, the next step is to report the problem to your workplace’s safety representative or union representative, if available.
  3. Consider Legal Rights to Refuse Work: In situations with imminent danger that could result in death or serious physical harm, you may have the right to refuse work.

If these steps do not resolve and the safety issue persists, it is time to consider filing a complaint with OSHA.

When to Contact OSHA

How to File an Anonymous Complaint with OSHA

Filing an anonymous complaint with OSHA is straightforward, and several methods are available to protect your identity.

Online Complaint Form

The easiest and most common method to file an anonymous complaint is through the online complaint form on the OSHA website. When filling out the form, you can choose not to provide your name or contact information.

Paper OSHA Complaint Form

Alternatively, download, print, and complete the OSHA Complaint Form paper. This form can be mailed, faxed, or emailed to your local OSHA office without including your personal information.

Phone Call

If you prefer to speak directly to someone, call OSHA’s toll-free number (800-321-6742) or your local OSHA office. During the call, you can express your desire to remain anonymous.

In-Person Visit

Visiting your local OSHA office in person is another option. You can inform the representative that you wish to file an anonymous complaint.

Whistleblower Protection

It’s important to note that even if you choose to reveal your identity, you are protected under the federal Whistleblower Protection Program. This program safeguards employees from retaliation by employers for reporting safety violations.

Prioritizing Complaints

While anonymous complaints are taken seriously, OSHA prioritizes signed complaints. These are more likely to result in an on-site inspection. However, if you have concerns about retaliation, filing anonymously can still be an effective way to alert OSHA to serious safety issues.


Filing an anonymous complaint with OSHA is a critical tool for employees to ensure their workplace is safe. By understanding when and how to file such a complaint, workers can protect themselves and their colleagues from unsafe working conditions without fear of retaliation. Remember, ensuring a safe work environment is not just the responsibility of employers but also the employees.