Investigate whether the hazards are a violation of any local, state or federal laws, or a violation of your collective bargaining process (if you are unionized).

In some cases, employers may only respond if they think the government is going to cite or fine them, so try to determine whether your safety or health problem violates any state or federal laws.

Below are some, but not all, of the agencies that may be applicable:


The main government agency responsible for worker health and safety is the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). On March 9, 2018 Governor Baker signed a bill that amends M.G.L. chapter 149 §6 ½. The law was updated to clarify employee safety requirements in public sector workplaces – defined public sector to include municipalities, counties, quasi-public entities, public colleges and universities, etc. – and set OSHA as the minimum standard.

The law went into effect on 2/1/19. Additional information can be found below.

Mass. Division of Occupational Safety (DOS)

DOS can investigate concerns regarding indoor air quality, lead, and asbestos. They also can enforce state laws that provide safety and health protections for municipal workers, as well as chemical hazards under the Right to Know Law for all municipal, state and county employees.

Local Board of Health

Some health and safety hazards may be a violation of the state building or local health code. For example, Massachusetts building code includes requirements regarding "unsafe ventilation" which some health departments interpret to include ventilation to ensure reasonable temperatures.

Other agencies that may encompass some environmental health and safety regulations are the US Environmental Protection Agency, the state's Department of Environmental Protection, and the state's Department of Public Health.

Other agencies that address other worker rights issues include (but are not limited to):

For unionized workplaces, workers can file a grievance to contest a violation of their contract, if health and safety languages exist or a change in working conditions – such as undergoing renovations or a new work process that exposes workers to chemicals or other hazards. However, grievance alone may not result in a change and other tactics may be necessary