Policies and Procedures
A. Complaint: Notice of an alleged safety or health hazard (over which MOSH
has jurisdiction), or a violation of the Act, submitted by a past
or present employee or representative of employees.
B. Formal Complaint: Complaint made by a current employee or a representative
of employees that meets all of the following requirements:
- Asserts that an imminent danger, a violation of the Act, a violation of an OSHA
standard, MOSH law, or regulation exposing employees to physical harm exists in the workplace;
- Is reduced to writing or submitted on an OSHA-7 form; and
- Is signed by at least one current employee or employee representative.
C. Non-formal Complaint: Any complaint alleging safety or health violations
that does not meet all of the requirements of a formal complaint
identified above and does not come from one of the sources identified under Referral below.
D. Inspection: An on-site examination of an employer's worksite conducted by
a MOSH compliance officer, initiated as the result of a complaint
or referral, and meeting at least one of the criteria identified in II.A, below.
E. Inquiry: A process conducted in response to a complaint or a referral that
does not meet one of the identified inspection criteria. It does
not involve an on-site inspection of the workplace, but rather
MOSH advises the employer of the alleged hazard(s) or violations
by fax, e-mail, or by letter if necessary. The employer is required
to provide a response, and MOSH will notify the complainant of
that response via appropriate means.
F. Electronic Complaint: A complaint submitted via MOSH's public webpage.
All complaints submitted via MOSH's public webpage are considered non-formal.
G. Permanently Disabling Injury or Illness: An injury or illness that
has resulted in permanent disability or an illness that is chronic
or irreversible. Permanently disabling injuries or illnesses include,
but are not limited to: amputation, blindness, a standard threshold
shift in hearing, lead or mercury poisoning, paralysis or third-degree burns.
H. Referral: Information received from one of the sources listed below alleging
a hazard or a violation of the Act believed to exist in a workplace.
- CSHO referral - information based on the direct observation of a CSHO. (Code
14A of the OSHA-90 form as A. CSHO (Within Office).)
- Safety and health agency referral - from sources including, but not
limited to: NIOSH, state programs, consultation, state or local
health departments, local police and fire departments, medical
doctors, as well as safety and/or health professionals in other
State or Federal agencies: (Code 14A of the OSHA-90 form as
B. Federal OSHA; C. MOSH; F. Consultation; G.
State/Local Government; or I. Other)
- 11(c) complaint referral - made by an 11(c) discrimination investigator
when an employee alleges that he or she was discriminated against
for complaining about safety or health conditions in the workplace
or for refusing to do an allegedly imminently dangerous job
or task. (Code 14A of the OSHA-90 form as D. Discrimination)
- Other government agency referral - made by other Federal, State, or local
government agencies or their employees. (Code 14A of the OSHA-90
form as E. Other Federal Agency, or G. State/
- Media report - either news items reported in the media or information reported
directly to OSHA by a media source. (Code 14A of the OSHA-90 form as H. Media)
- Employer report - of accidents other than fatalities and catastrophes. (Code
14A of the OSHA-90 form as I. Other)
I. Representative of Employees: Any of the following,
- 1. An authorized representative of the employee bargaining unit, such as a certified
or recognized labor organization.
- An attorney acting for an employee.
- Any other person acting in a bona fide representative capacity, including members
of the clergy, social workers, spouses and other family members,
and government officials or nonprofit groups and organizations
acting upon specific complaints and injuries from individuals who are employees.
- The representational capacity of the person filing complaints on behalf of another
should be ascertained unless it is already clear. In general,
the affected employee should have requested, or at least approved
of, the filing of the complaint on his or her behalf.
II. Criteria Warranting an Inspection
A. Whether the information received is classified as a complaint or a referral, an inspection
of a workplace is normally warranted if at least one of
the conditions below is met (See Procedures for an Inspection VIA.2):
- A valid formal complaint is submitted. Specifically, the complaint must be
reduced to writing or submitted on an OSHA-7 form, be signed
by a current employee or representative of employees, and state
the reason for the inspection request with reasonable particularity.
Additionally, there must be reasonable grounds to believe either
that a violation of the MOSH Act, COMAR or of an OSHA standard
that exposes employees to physical harm exists, or that an imminent
danger of death or serious injury exists, as provided in Section
5-209 of the Act and in COMAR 09.12.20.04.
- The information alleges that a disabling injury or illness (as defined in Definition
I.G.) has occurred as a result of the complained of hazard(s),
and there is reason to believe that the hazard or related hazards still exist.
- The information alleges that an imminent danger situation exists (see chapters
II and III of the Field Operations Manual for additional procedures to be followed).
- The information concerns an establishment and an alleged hazard covered by a
local or national emphasis program, the Site Specific Targeting
Plan, or MOSH's current strategic plan.
- The employer fails
to provide an adequate response to an inquiry, or the individual
who provided the original information provides further evidence
that the employer's response is false or does not adequately
address the hazard(s).
- The establishment
that is the subject of the information has a history of egregious,
willful, failure-to-abate, or repeat citations within MOSH's
jurisdiction during the past three years, or is an establishment
or related establishment in the Enhanced Enforcement Program.
However, if the employer has previously submitted adequate abatement
documentation for these violations demonstrating that they have
been corrected and that programs have been implemented to prevent
a recurrence of hazards, the Operations Supervisor will normally
determine that an inspection is not necessary.
- An 11(c) discrimination
investigator requests that an inspection be conducted in response
to an employee's allegation that the employee was discriminated
against for complaining about safety or health conditions in
the workplace or for refusing to perform an allegedly imminently
dangerous job or task.
- If an inspection
is scheduled or has begun at an establishment and a complaint
or referral that would normally be handled via inquiry is received,
that complaint or referral may, at the Operations Supervisor's
discretion, be incorporated into the scheduled or ongoing inspection.
If such a complaint is formal, the complainant must still receive
a written response addressing the complaint items.
- If the information
gives reasonable grounds to believe that a worker under 18 years
of age is exposed to a serious violation of a safety or health
standard or a serious hazard, an on-site inspection will be
initiated if the information relates to construction, manufacturing,
agriculture, or other industries as determined by the Operations
Supervisor. (Limitations placed on MOSH's activities in agriculture
by Appropriations Act provisions will be observed. See MOSH
NOTE: The information does not need to allege that a child labor
law has been violated.
- The information
received is a signed, written complaint from a current employee
or employee representative that alleges a recordkeeping deficiency
that indicates the existence of a serious safety or health violation.
B. In order to schedule
an inspection of an employer in an exempt industry classification
as specified by Appropriations Act provisions (see MOSH Instruction
- The information
must come directly from a current employee; OR
- It must be determined
and documented in the case file that the information came from
a representative of the employee (see Definitions I.I.) with
the employee's knowledge of the representative's intended action.
III. Electronic Complaints Received via the MOSH Public Website
A. Electronic complaints submitted via the MOSH public website are forwarded to the Operations
B. The Operations Office manages a "Complaints" mailbox and processes electronic
complaints according to complaint processing procedures. The complaints
mailbox is monitored daily and every incoming complaint is reviewed
- If the complaint
falls within the jurisdiction of MOSH, the complaint is entered
into IMIS and processed as usual.
- If the complaint falls within the jurisdiction of OSHA, the complaint is forwarded
C. The Operations
Office will coordinate with OSHA to establish how electronic complaints
will be processed. After reaching agreement on the procedures
for receiving electronic complaints, the complaints will be forwarded
to the Baltimore/Washington Area Office.
D. Complete an OSHA-7
form for all complaint information received. In order to facilitate
the tracking of electronic complaints, enter the following code
in the Optional Information field:
- Where N-11 indicates that the complaint was filed electronically;
- The digits following
LOG are the unique compliant ID/log numbers assigned to the
electronic complaint by the Operations Office. In entering
the code there is no space between the word LOG and the digits
that follow. Example: N-11-LOG5862.
E. Information received
electronically from a current employee is considered a non-formal
complaint until that individual provides a signed copy of the
information. The employee can mail or fax a signed copy of the
information, request that an OSHA-7 form be sent, or sign the
information in person at the Operations Office or Regional Offices.
Normally a complainant
is given five working days to formalize an electronic complaint.
The Operations Office must actively follow up on information received
electronically in order to provide the employee with the opportunity
to make the complaint formal.
F. All complaint
related material received electronically should be printed and
date stamped with the date the material was submitted and received.
When these dates are not the same, the Operations Supervisor will
determine the appropriate date for the incoming material.
IV. Information Received by Telephone
A. During the course of telephone contact with the caller, MOSH will attempt to obtain
the following information:
- Whether the caller is a current employee or a representative of a current employee?
- The exact nature
of the alleged hazard(s) and the basis of the caller's knowledge,
as the individual receiving the information must determine,
to the extent possible, whether the information received describes
an apparent violation of the MOSH Act, COMAR, or of an OSHA
- The employer's name, address, telephone and fax numbers, as well as the name
of a contact person at the worksite.
- The name, addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses of any union and/or
employee representative at the worksite.
B. As appropriate, MOSH will provide the caller with the following information:
- Describe the complaint
process, and if appropriate, the concepts of "inquiry" and "inspection,"
as well as the relative advantages of each.
- If the caller
is a current employee or a representative of employees, explain
the distinction between a formal complaint and a non-formal
complaint, and the rights and protections that accompany filing
a formal complaint. These rights and protections include:
- The right to request an on-site inspection.
- Notification in writing if an inspection is deemed unnecessary because
there are no reasonable grounds to believe that a violation
or danger exists.
- The right to obtain review of a decision not to inspect by submitting a
request for review in writing.
- If appropriate, inform the complainant of rights to confidentiality in accordance
with Section 5-209 of the Act for private and public sector
employees. Ask whether the complainant wishes to exercise this right.
- Explain to private and public sector employees their rights against reprisal and
discrimination provided by the MOSH Act, Section 5-604.
V. Procedures for Handling Complaints Filed in Multiple Regions
A. When Operations determines that a complaint from an employee or an employee representative
regarding a hazardous condition or deficiency in an employer's
safety and health program exists at multiple locations in the
State, the Chief, MOSH Compliance Services, shall be contacted,
and when appropriate a separate OSHA-7 form will be completed
for each location.
VI. Procedures for an Inspection
A. Upon receipt of a complaint or referral, the Operations Supervisor will evaluate
all available information and exercise professional judgment as
to whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that a violation
or hazard exists.
- If necessary, reasonable attempts will be made to contact the individual who
provided the information in order to obtain additional details
or to clarify issues raised in the complaint or referral. See
- The Operations
Supervisor may determine not to inspect a facility if there
is substantial reason to believe that the condition complained
of is being abated.
B. Where a complaint
has been submitted but, in the professional judgment of the Operations
Supervisor, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that a
violation or hazard exists, no inspection or inquiry will be conducted.
- Where a formal
complaint has been submitted, the complainant will be notified
in writing of MOSH's intent not to conduct an inspection, the
reasoning behind the determination, and the appeal rights provided
under COMAR 09.12.20.04. The justification for not inspecting
will be noted in the case file.
- Where a non-formal
complaint or referral has been submitted, if possible, the individual
providing the information will be notified by appropriate means
of MOSH's intent not to conduct an inquiry or inspection. The
justification for not inspecting will be noted in the case file.
C. If the information
contained in the complaint or referral meets at least one of the
inspection criteria listed in II.A, above, and there are reasonable
grounds to believe that a violation or hazard exists, the Operations
Supervisor is authorized to assign the complaint to the appropriate
regional office for inspection.
- If appropriate,
the Operations Supervisor will inform the individual providing
the information that an inspection will be scheduled and that
he or she will be advised of the results.
- After the inspection,
the Operations Supervisor (or regional supervisor in those offices
where citations are issued) will send the individual a letter
addressing each complaint item, with reference to the citation(s)
or a sufficiently detailed explanation for why a citation was
D. If an inspection
is warranted, it will be initiated as soon as resources permit.
Inspections resulting from formal complaints of serious hazards
will normally be initiated within five (5) working days.
for an Inquiry
A. If the complaint
or referral does not meet the criteria for initiating an on-site
inspection, an inquiry will be conducted. MOSH will promptly contact
the employer to notify it of the complaint or referral and its
B. If a non-formal
complaint is submitted that does not meet any of the inspection
criteria, the complainant may be given five (5) working days to
make the complaint formal.
- The complainant
may come into the Baltimore office or a regional office and
sign the complaint, or mail or fax a signed complaint letter
to MOSH. Additionally, an OSHA-7 form can be mailed or faxed
to the complainant, if appropriate.
- If the complaint
is not made formal after five (5) working days, MOSH will proceed
with the inquiry process.
C. The employer will
be advised of what information is needed to answer the inquiry
and encouraged to respond by fax or e-mail. Employers are requested
to do the following:
- Immediately investigate
and determine whether the complaint or referral information
is valid and make any necessary corrections or modifications.
- Advise the Operations
Supervisor either in writing or via e-mail within five (5) working
days of the results of the investigation into the alleged complaint
or referral information. Although the employer is requested
to respond within the above time frame, the employer may not
be able to complete abatement action during that time, but is
encouraged to do so.
- Provide the Operations
Supervisor with supporting documentation of the findings, including
any applicable measurements or monitoring results, and photographs
and/or videos that the employer believes would be helpful, as
well as a description of any corrective action the employer
has taken or is in the process of taking.
- Post a copy of
the letter from MOSH where it is readily accessible for review
by all employees.
- Return a copy
of the signed Certificate of Posting to the Operations Office.
- If there is a
recognized employee union or safety and health committee in
the facility, provide it with a copy of MOSH's letter and the
D. As soon as possible
after contacting the employer, the notification letter will be
faxed to the employer, or mailed where no fax is available. Sample
letters to complainants and employers are provided on the NCR.
Note that some of these letters are for private sector use and
some are for Federal Agency use. If e-mail is an acceptable means
of responding, this should be indicated in the notification letter
and the proper e-mail address should be provided.
E. If no employer
response or an inadequate employer response is received after
the allotted five (5) working days, additional contact with the
employer may be made before an inspection is scheduled. Ultimately,
if the employer provides no response or an inadequate response,
or if MOSH determines from other information that the condition
has not been or is not being corrected, an inspection will be
F. The complainant
will be advised of the employer's response, as well as his or
her right to dispute that response, and of the right to request
an inspection if the alleged hazard persists.
- When MOSH receives
an adequate response from the employer and the complainant does
not dispute or object to the response, an on-site inspection
normally will not be conducted.
- If the complainant is a current employee or a representative of employees and wishes
to dispute the employer's response, the disagreement must be
submitted in writing and signed, thereby making the complaint formal.
- If the employee
disagreement takes the form of a written and signed formal
complaint, refer to procedures in VI, above.
- If the employee
disagreement does not take the form of a written and signed
formal complaint, some discretion is allowed in situations
where, in the professional judgment of the Operations Supervisor,
the information does not warrant an on-site inspection. In
such situations, the complainant will be notified of MOSH's
intent not to conduct an inspection and the reasoning behind
the determination. This decision should be sufficiently documented
in the case file.
G. If a signed complaint
is received after the complaint inquiry process has begun, the
Operations Supervisor will determine whether the alleged hazard
is still likely to exist based on the employer's response and
by contacting the complainant. The complainant will be informed
that the inquiry has begun and that the complainant still retains
the right to request an on-site inspection if he or she disputes
the results and believes the hazard still exists.
H. The complaint
must not be closed until MOSH confirms that the hazard has been
abated and eliminated.
A. Identity of the
complainant: Upon request of the complainant, his or her identity
will be withheld from the employer in accordance with Section
5-209 of the MOSH Act. No information will be given to the employer
that would allow the employer to identify the complainant.
Protection: Section 5-604 of the MOSH Act provides protection
for employees who believe that they have been the subject of an
adverse employment action in retaliation for engaging in activities
related to workplace safety and health. Any employee who believes
that he or she has been discharged or otherwise discriminated
against by any person as a result of engaging in such activities
may file a discrimination complaint. Such a complaint must be
filed within 30 days of the discharge or other discrimination.
always be advised of their Section 5-406 rights and protections
upon initial contact with MOSH and whenever appropriate in subsequent
XI. Recording in IMIS
complaint inspections or inquiries must be recorded in IMIS following
current instructions given in OSHA's IMIS manual.
For All Complaints:
1. What is the hazard?
2. How are workers exposed to this hazard? Describe the unsafe
or unhealthful working conditions; identify the location.
3. What work is done in the unsafe/unhealthful area? Identify,
as well as possible, the type and condition of equipment in use,
the materials (e.g., chemicals) being used, the process/operation
involved, and the kinds of work being done near the hazardous
area. Have there been any recent chemical spills, releases, or
4. With what frequency are workers doing the task that leads to
the exposure: Continuously, Every day, every week, rarely, and
for how long at one time? How long has the condition existed (so
far as can be determined)? Has it been brought to the employer's
attention? Have any attempts been made to correct the condition,
and, if so, who took these actions? What were the results?
5. How many shifts are there? What time do they start? On which
shift does the hazardous condition exist?
6. What personal protective equipment (e.g., hearing protection,
gloves or respirators) is required by the employer relevant to
the alleged exposure? Is it used by employees? Include all PPE
and describe it as specifically as possible. Include the manufacturer's
name and any identifying numbers.
7. How many people work in the establishment? How many are exposed
to the hazardous conditions? How near do they get to the hazard?
8. Is there an employee representative or a union in the establishment?
If yes, include the representative's name, address, and telephone
number of the union and/or the employee representative(s).
For Health Hazards
9. Has the employer
administered any tests to determine employee exposure levels to
the hazardous conditions or substance? If yes, describe these
tests. Can the employees get the results (as required by the standard)?
What were the results?
10. What engineering controls are in place in the area(s) in which
the exposed employees work? For instance, are there any fans or
acoustical insulation in the area which may reduce exposure to
11. What administrative or work practice controls has the employer
put in place?
12. Do any employees have any symptoms that may have been caused
by exposure to hazardous substances? Have any employees ever been
treated by a physician for a work-related disease or condition?
What was it?
13. Have there been any "near-miss" incidents?
14. Are respirators worn to protect against health hazards? If
so, what kind? What exposures are they protecting against?
15. If the complaint is related to noise, what, if any, hearing
protection is provided to and worn by the employees?
16. Do employees receive audiograms on a regular basis?
For Safety Hazards:
17. Under what adverse
or hazardous conditions are employees required to work? This should
include conditions contributing to stress and "other" probability
18. Have any employees been injured as a result of this hazardous
condition? Have there been any "near miss" incidents?
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