File a VOSH Complaint


  • The Occupational Safety and Health Laws of Virginia give employees the right to file complaints about workplace safety and health hazards.  
  • Employees are encouraged to resolve safety and health issues first by reporting them to their supervisors, managers or their safety and health committee, if possible. At any time, however, employees can file a VOSH complaint without first bringing the matter to the attention of their employer. 
  • Complainants have the right to request that their names not be revealed to their employers. Complaints from employees and their representatives are taken very seriously by VOSH. 

Are you looking to report a fatality or injury? Click here to learn more.

To Make a Report 


Who can file a complaint? 

Employees or their representatives have a right to request an inspection of a workplace 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 danger” exists. Any person who knows about a workplace safety or health hazard may complain, and VOSH will either investigate or inspect the concerns reported depending on the specific circumstances. 


What information must the employee provide? 

Employees or their representatives must provide enough information for VOSH to determine that a hazard probably exists. Workers do not have to know whether a specific VOSH standard has been violated in order to file a complaint. They only need a good-faith belief that dangerous conditions exist in their workplace.Because it is important to give as much complete and accurate information as possible about an alleged hazard, answers to the following types of questions may be useful:  

  • How many employees work at the site and how many are exposed to the hazard? 
  • How and when are workers exposed? 
  • What work is performed in the unsafe or unhealthful area? 
  • What type of equipment is used? Is it in good condition? 
  • What materials and/or chemicals are used? 
  • Have employees been informed or trained regarding hazardous conditions? 
  • What process and/or operation is involved? 
  • What kinds of work are done nearby? 
  • How often and for how long do employees work at the task that leads to their exposure? 
  • How long (to the best of your knowledge) has the condition existed? 
  • Have any attempts been made to correct the problem? 
  • How many shifts work in the area and what times do they start? On what shifts does the hazard exist? 
  • What personal protective equipment is required by the employer? Is the equipment used by the employees? 
  • Has anyone been injured or made ill as a result of this problem? 
  • Have there been any “near-miss” incidents? 
  • Has the employer conducted any tests to determine if employees are exposed to the hazardous condition or substance? 
  • What are these tests and the results of the tests? 
  • What steps has the employer taken, if any, to control the hazard? 
  • Do any employees have any symptoms that they think are caused by the hazardous condition or substance? 
  • Have any employees been treated by a doctor for a work-related disease or condition? What was it? 

(Note: It is not necessary to have the answers to all the questions in order to file a complaint. The list is provided here as a guide.) 


How does VOSH respond to complaints? 

There are two ways that VOSH can respond to a complaint. VOSH can either perform an on-site inspection or an off-site investigation, also known as a “phone/fax investigation.” 

Although every worker has a right to receive an on-site inspection if certain criteria are met, there are times when an off-site investigation may be a better alternative. VOSH normally responds to lower priority hazards using an off-site approach. This enables the agency to concentrate resources on the most serious workplace hazards. Employees who request an off-site investigation do not give up the right to request an on-site inspection of potential violations and hazards if they are not satisfied with the investigation. Workers should call their nearest VOSH Regional or Field Office to discuss their options. 

If an off-site investigation is appropriate, VOSH telephones the employer, describes the alleged hazards and then follows up with a fax or letter. VOSH’s off-site method enables the agency to respond more quickly to hazards when the criteria to conduct an on-site inspection (see below) are not met or where the employee or employee representative requests the off-site method. The employer must respond in writing within five days, identifying any problems found and noting corrective actions taken or planned. If the response is adequate, VOSH generally will not conduct an inspection. The employee or employee representative who filed the original complaint will receive a copy of the employer’s response and, if still not satisfied, may then request an on-site inspection. 

If the employee or employee representative files a written complaint that meets certain criteria, then VOSH may conduct an on-site inspection. These criteria include claims of serious physical harm that have already resulted in disabling injuries or illnesses or claims of imminent danger situations; written, signed complaints by employees requesting inspections; and situations where the employer provided an inadequate response to a phone/fax investigation. 


What is the process for worker involvement in VOSH inspections? 

The Labor Laws of Virginia give the workers’ representative the right to accompany the VOSH inspector during the inspection. The representative is chosen by the union (if there is one) or by the employees, never by the employer. If the employees are represented by more than one union, each union may choose a representative. Normally, the representative of each union will not accompany the inspector for the entire inspection but will join the inspection when it reaches the area where those union members work. Workers have a right to talk privately to the inspector on a confidential basis whether or not a workers’ representative has been chosen. Workers are encouraged to point out hazards, describe accidents or illnesses that resulted from those hazards and relate past worker complaints about hazards. Workers should also inform the inspector if working conditions are not the same as usually exist in the workplace. 


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

The laws of Virginia authorize VOSH to investigate employee complaints of employer discrimination against those who are involved in safety and health activities. Click here to learn about the VOSH Office of Whistleblower Protection

You may pay for your inspection certificate invoice online. Accepted methods of payment include:

  • Check
  • Credit Card
  • Electronic Check (E-Check)
  • Electronic Transfer (EDI)
  • Money Order
  • Cash IS NOT accepted

If you wish to pay by credit card or e-check, you will need certain information from your invoice, including invoice number and the Virginia number (VA number) of one of the objects. The VA number can be found on the table that appears on the invoice. You will only need to provide one VA number, even if your invoice lists several object numbers.

For all other methods of payment, please follow the instructions on the invoice and the remittance form you received.

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