The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration Enforcement Branch has several jobs. It is primarily focused on investigating accidents and complaints involving workers. This includes investigating workers' claims of hazards in the workplace, reports of violations of a serious nature and reports of injuries or deaths in the workplace.
Does OSHA only investigate when something goes wrong?
Cal/OSHA has other jobs besides investigating when someone is hurt or killed. It can stop a business from using an item or performing an action by issuing an order prohibiting use, or it can conduct a targeted inspection of an employer in a high-hazard industry. This organization often conducts programmed inspections, particularly in the petroleum and mining industries.
Do workers have the right to contact OSHA if their employers are putting them at risk?
Workers in any workplace have a right to file a complaint against their employers if they are working in a hazardous environment with safety violations. The California Occupational and Health Act of 1973 states that workers have this right.
Can employers retaliate if an employee complains to OSHA?
It is illegal for an employer to fire, demote or otherwise punish an employee for filing a complaint. Cal/OSHA is required by law to keep complaints anonymous unless the person who submitted it wants to be recognized.
If a workplace injury or death does take place, Cal/OSHA has the right to issue citations to the employer. It can also take special actions after investigations and issue special orders that could impact the employer in the long term. The outcome of the investigation may help those who want to seek a claim against the employer, though most people will be covered through workers' compensation claims. Those who are not may want to consider a personal injury claim.
Source: State of California, Department of Industrial Relations, "Cal/OSHA Enforcement Branch," accessed March 03, 2017