Administrative Code

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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 16. Labor And Employment
Agency 25. Safety And Health Codes Board
Chapter 60. Administrative Regulation for the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Program

16VAC25-60-100. Complaints.

A. An employee or other person who believes that a safety or health hazard exists in a workplace may request an inspection by giving notice to the commissioner.

B. For purposes of this section and § 40.1-51.2(b) of the Code of Virginia, the representative(s) that will be recognized as authorized to act for employees can be:

1. A representative of the employee bargaining unit;

2. Any member of the employee's immediate family acting on behalf of the employee; or

3. A lawyer or physician retained by the employee.

C. A written complaint may be preceded by an oral complaint at which time the commissioner will either give instructions for filing the written complaint or provide forms for that purpose. Section 40.1-51.2(b) of the Code of Virginia stipulates that the written complaint follow an oral complaint by no more than two working days. However, if an oral complaint gives the commissioner reasonable grounds to believe that a serious condition or imminent danger situation exists, the commissioner may cause an inspection to be conducted as soon as possible without waiting for a written complaint.

D. A complaint should allege that a violation of safety and health laws, standards, rules, or regulations has taken place. The violation or hazard should be described with reasonable particularity.

E. A complaint will be evaluated to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the violation or hazard complained of exists.

1. If the commissioner determines that there are no reasonable grounds for believing that the violation or hazard exists, the employer and the complainant shall be informed in writing of the reasons for this determination.

2. An employee or authorized representative may obtain review of the commissioner's determination that no reasonable grounds for believing that the violation or hazard exists by submitting a written statement of his position with regard to the issue. Upon receipt of such written statement a further review of the matter will be made which may include a requested written statement of position from the employer, further discussions with the complainant or an informal conference with complainant or employer if requested by either party. After review of the matter, the commissioner shall affirm, modify or reverse the original determination and furnish the complainant and the employer written notification of his decision.

F. The commissioner's response to a complaint will either be in the form of an onsite inspection or an investigation that does not involve onsite response by the commissioner.

1. Onsite inspections will normally be conducted in response to complaints alleging the following:

a. The complaint was reduced to writing, is signed by a current employee or employee representative, and states the reason for the inspection request with reasonable particularity. In addition, there are reasonable grounds to believe that a violation of a safety or health standard has occurred;

b. Imminent danger hazard;

c. Serious hazard, which in the discretion of the commissioner requires an onsite inspection;

d. Permanently disabling injury or illness related to a hazard potentially still in existence;

e. The establishment has a significant history of noncompliance with VOSH laws and standards;

f. The complaint identifies an establishment or an alleged hazard covered by a local or national emphasis inspection program;

g. A request from a VOSH/OSHA discrimination investigator to conduct an inspection in response to a complaint initially filed with the investigator; or

h. The employer fails to provide an adequate response to a VOSH investigation contact, or the complainant provides evidence that the employer's response is false, incorrect, incomplete or does not adequately address the hazard.

2. A complaint investigation, which does not involve onsite activity, shall normally be conducted for all complaints that do not meet the criteria listed in subdivision 1 of this subsection.

3. The commissioner reserves the right, for good cause shown, to initiate an inspection with regard to certain complaints that do not meet the criteria listed in subdivision 1 of this subsection; as well as to decline to conduct an inspection and instead conduct an investigation, for good cause shown, when certain complaints are found to otherwise meet the criteria listed in subdivision 1 of this subsection.

G. If there are several complaints to be investigated, the commissioner may prioritize them by considering such factors as the gravity of the danger alleged and the number of exposed employees.

H. At the beginning of the inspection the employer shall be provided with a copy of the written complaint. The complainant's name shall be deleted and any other information which would identify the complainant shall be reworded or deleted so as to protect the complainant's identity.

I. An inspection pursuant to a complaint may cover the entire operation of the employer, particularly if it appears to the commissioner that a full inspection is warranted. However, if there has been a recent inspection of the worksite or if there is reason to believe that the alleged violation or hazard concerns only a limited area or aspect of the employer's operation, the inspection may be limited accordingly.

J. After an inspection based on a complaint, the commissioner shall inform the complainant in writing whether a citation has been issued and briefly set forth the reasons if not. The commissioner shall provide the complainant with a copy of any resulting citation issued to the employer.

Statutory Authority

§§ 40.1-6 and 40.1-22 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR425-02-95 § 2.9, eff. July 1, 1994; amended, Virginia Register Volume 22, Issue 25, eff. September 21, 2006.

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