The pressure is always on to be a team player. If there’s something wrong at the workplace, just tell your direct supervisor and then move on. Nothing is gained by making waves. There’s certainly no need to take the case to OSHA, or to the Fire Marshall, or to the press.
When you see something unsafe at the workplace and want to report it, the peer pressure is always intense. No one wants you to risk the company being closed for even a few days to fix things. After all, people need their paychecks, and even a brief shutdown could mean a missed mortgage payment. Everyone is sure the company isn’t going to do the right thing and pay employees while they’re shut down.
Don’t listen to the peer pressure. If you see something unsafe, report it immediately. A story out of Alabama makes the importance of prompt reporting absolutely clear. A worker at a fireworks plant was threatened by a supervisor that she needed to increase productivity, even though there was no safe way to do so. Aimee Cothran, who had been with the company for fourteen years, reported the problem to the manager. The speed at which the supervisor wanted her to mix chemicals all but guaranteed an explosive reaction. When nothing was done immediately, she made it clear that she would take it further up the chain of command the next week.
She didn’t make it to the next week. A massive explosion at the fireworks factory killed her six days before she could report the safety violations to the owner or to OSHA. If you see something unsafe, don’t hesitate to report it. The modern age has made many things easier, including reporting unsafe work conditions. There are now four options for making a complaint to OSHA, including:
- By telephone
- By fax
- By mail
- By online form
For telephone, fax, or mail, you will need the information for your state or regional OSHA office.
Being a team player is usually a good thing, but not when it means letting unsafe conditions exist. If you or someone you know has been injured in a workplace accident, please contact OSHA. Then contact a qualified attorney who can help you hold the company to account for their negligence.