How to File a Cal OSHA Complaint

Two Parts:Preparing to File a ComplaintFiling a Complaint

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, also known as Cal-OSHA, is the state agency responsible for protecting the public and workers from safety hazards by enforcing the state’s occupational and public safety laws and regulations. Under state and federal law, workers have the right to complain to Cal-OSHA about health and safety hazards on the job by filing a complaint with Cal-OSHA.

Part 1
Preparing to File a Complaint

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    Check if you are covered. Cal-OSHA protects private employees as well as state and local government workers. The only people not covered by the state act are federal government employees.[1]
    • If you are a federal government employee, then you are covered under the federal OSHA. You should contact the federal OSHA about any hazards. Online reporting is available here.
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    Recognize hazards. The California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973 gives California workers the right to file a complaint about health and safety hazards in their workplace. Examples of hazards include uncovered floor openings, improperly stored hazardous material, or poorly maintained tools and equipment.[2]
    • Additionally, excessive heat at work and a lack of shade in outdoor workplaces are also considered to be a workplace hazard.
    • You can use this checklist to assess safety hazards at you workplace.
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    Gather information about your workplace. You must provide Cal-OSHA with specific details about your employer. You should collect this information before going to a district office and completing a complaint:[3]
    • name, address, and telephone number of the worksite
    • type of business
    • the name and job title of the worksite manager
    • your name, address, telephone number, and email address
    • a detailed description of the hazard
    • the specific location of the hazard (if your workplace is large)
    • operations, equipment, machinery, and chemicals used at the worksite
    • any tasks performed near the hazard, including how often the task is performed and for how long
    • number of work shifts, including the time each shift begins and the shift when the hazard occurs
    • number of employees at the worksite, including the number who might have been exposed to the hazard and their vicinity to the hazard
    • employees injured or showing symptoms caused by the hazard and whether they have received medical treatment
    • how long the hazard has existed, whether the employer knows about it, and whether the employer has tried to correct it
    • how long you expect the hazard to continue
    • the name and contact information for any employee bargaining unit representative
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    Identify the industry you work in. Some industries report to specific offices. For example, those who work in the adult film industry will report exposure to infectious diseases by calling (714) 558-4300 or by emailing[4]
    • Other industries are Mine or Tunnel, Process Safety Management, and all other industries.
    • To find out the offices you can report to if you work in Mine or Tunnel or Process Safety management, then visit this page.

Part 2
Filing a Complaint

  1. Image titled File a Cal OSHA Complaint Step 5
    Contact the appropriate office. If you do not work in the adult film, process safety management, or mine or tunnel industries, then you may file your complaint by calling your Cal-OSHA district office. To view a listing of offices, click here to access the Cal-OSHA district office locator. Enter your zip code or city name.
  2. Image titled File a Cal OSHA Complaint Step 6
    Get a complaint. You cannot file a complaint online. Instead, you must either visit an office or call. You may also email a complaint.[5]
    • You can call 1-866-924-9757, say or press “2,” then enter or say the zip code of your job site.[6]
    • A copy of the complaint form is here. Although you are not required to use this form, it is recommended.
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    Complete the complaint. If you download the PDF, you can complete the form on your computer. You should describe each hazard in as much detail as possible. If you need additional space, then continue on a second piece of paper.[7]
    • Once you have filled out the complaint, you can drop it off or fax it to your local Cal-OSHA office.
    • Be sure to get the name of the representative you worked with so that you can follow up.
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    Wait. According to California law, an investigation will be opened within three days of the receipt of a complaint alleging a serious violation and within 14 days if alleging a non-serious violation.[8] After you submit your complaint, a determination will be made about inspection priority. Imminent hazard complaints are given priority.
    • An imminent hazard is one which could reasonably be expected to cause death or serious physical harm immediately or before the harm can be eliminated by regular Cal-OSHA enforcement procedures.[9]


  • By law, Cal-OSHA keeps the name of any person who submits a complaint confidential unless you request otherwise.[10]
  • Your employer cannot retaliate against you for filing a Cal-OSHA complaint. Accordingly, you cannot be fired, demoted, transferred to a less desirable position or shift, and you cannot be harassed. If you suspect your employer is retaliating against you, then you may file a complaint with the California Labor Commission within six months of the alleged retaliation.[11][12]
  • If you are injured on the job, then contact the Division of Workers’ Compensation here.

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Categories: Workplace Conflicts Coping and Issues | Official Writing and Complaints