For Workers

Know Your Rights

State law entitles you to a safe workplace. Your employer must keep your workplace free of known health and safety hazards. You have the right to speak up about hazards without fear of retaliation. You also have the right to:

  • Receive workplace safety and health training in a language you understand
  • Work on machines that are safe
  • Receive required safety personal protective equipment, such as gloves or a harness and lifeline for falls
  • Be protected when working with toxic chemicals
  • Request a HIOSH inspection
  • Report an injury or illness, and get copies of your medical records
  • Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses
  • See results of tests taken to find workplace hazards

File a Complaint

If you believe working conditions are unsafe or unhealthful, you may file a confidential complaint with HIOSH and ask for an inspection. If possible, tell your employer about your concerns first.

It is illegal for an employer to fire, or otherwise retaliate against a worker who complains to HIOSH and uses their rights. If you believe you have been retaliated against in any way, file a whistleblower complaint.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What should I do if there is a dangerous situation at work?

If you believe working conditions are unsafe or unhealthful, you may file a complaint with HIOSH concerning a hazardous working condition at any time. If possible, bring the conditions to your employer’s attention first. If the condition clearly presents a risk of death or serious physical harm, there is not sufficient time for HIOSH to inspect, and, where possible, a worker has brought the condition to the attention of the employer, the worker may have a legal right to refuse to work in a situation in which he or she would be exposed to the hazard. If you have questions about what to do, contact HIOSH.

Can someone file a complaint for me?

Yes, a complaint can be filed on your behalf by: an authorized representative of a labor organization or other employee bargaining unit; an attorney; any person acting as a bona fide representative, including members of the clergy, social workers, spouses and other family members; government officials or nonprofit groups; and organizations acting upon specific complaints and injuries from you or your coworkers. In addition, anyone who knows about a workplace safety or health hazard may report unsafe conditions to HIOSH, and HIOSH will take appropriate actions with the concerns reported.

What happens after I file a Safety and Health Complaint?

Each complaint is evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine whether it should be handled as an off-site investigation or an on-site inspection. Specific written complaints (or filed online) that are signed by workers or their representative and submitted to a HIOSH are more likely to result in on-site HIOSH inspections.

What are my rights during HIOSH inspection?

When the HIOSH inspector arrives, workers and their representatives have the right to talk privately with the HIOSH inspector before and after the inspection. A worker representative may also go along on the inspection. Where there is no union or employee representative, the HIOSH inspector must talk confidentially with a reasonable number of workers during the course of the investigation.

What if I am injured at work?

If you are injured, call a supervisor for help. If the supervisor is not available, get medical assistance or call 911.

All employers must notify HIOSH:

  • within 8 hours of a workplace fatality, and
  • within 24 hours of any inpatient hospitalization of an employee, employee amputation, employee’s loss of an eye, or excess property damage of $25,000 as a result of work-related incident.