OSHA Complaint Data Provides Some Insight

Cumulative complaint data suggests that employers in many business sectors are facing new employee safety challenges.

Complaint Data

OSHA has been logging coronavirus-related complaints since February 1, 2020, and as of July 23, 2020, federal OSHA has received 7,091 complaints, and state OSHA programs have received 18,300 complaints. Federal OSHA has closed 6,138 complaints and referred 939 for follow-up. State programs have closed 11,438 cases, and are following up on 934.

Complaint and referral data is updated daily and provides a helpful window into how the pandemic is affecting a wide range of businesses.

The data in OSHA’s COVID-19 Response Summary is organized by “Selected Essential Industry” and “Selected Industry” — using the NAICS (North American Industry Classification System). The NAICS groups businesses into categories based on primary business activity. All businesses performing similar functions are classified together.

What Complaint Data Tells Us

The selected NAICS data available in the Response Summary provides some additional detail about the source of complaints. For example, of the 1,875 complaints received by federal OSHA from the Healthcare industry, 584 are associated with General Medical & Surgical Hospitals (NAICS 622110), 329 originated from Nursing and Residential Care Facilities, 60 from Home Health Care (NAICS 621610), 158 concern the Offices of Physicians (NAICS 621111), and 51 are about Residential Mental Health and Substance Abuse Facilities (NAICS 623220).

Other industry sectors included in OSHA’s federal “selected summary” report are Retail Trade (810 complaints), Grocery Stores (117 complaints), Restaurants and Other Eating Places (317 complaints), the Postal Service (341 complaints), and Couriers and Express Delivery Service (83 complaints).

Most complaints cite inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE), non-compliance with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance (i.e., social distancing, over-crowding, etc.), and problems with local health agencies.

Reporting Trends By Region

The COVID-19 Response Summary also categorizes complaints and referrals by region, with Region 4 (Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee) and Region 5 (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) currently topping the list (with 1,467 and 1,611 complaints, respectively).  OSHA follow-up inspections are also reported for each region.


If you have any compliance or safety questions concerning your business or workplace — or if you have received notice that a complaint has been filed naming your business — please don’t hesitate to contact me.

About the Author: James Laboe

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