The whistleblower provisions laws enacted by Congress prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or the government. “The ability of workers to speak out and exercise their legal rights without fear of retaliation is crucial to many of the legal protections and safeguards that all Americans value.”
Currently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces the whistleblower statutes that protect employees who report violations of various work place safety, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws. As part of a continuing effort to improve the Whistleblower Protection Program, on August 1, 2011 OSHA announced that it is implementing additional measures to strengthen the program and is releasing a detailed review. These measures are anticipated to significantly strengthen OSHA’s enforcement of the whistleblower laws.
The significant changes include several different measures. The first measure is restructuring to improve the administration and statute of the program. This includes requiring the Whistleblower Protection Program will report directly to the assistant secretary instead of being housed in the Directorate of Enforcement, as well as increasing the number of investigators. Another measure is increasing training by holding a national whistleblower training conference, as well as offering other investigator training events.
OSHA will also issue a new edition of the Whistleblower Investigations Manual that updates current procedures and includes information on the new laws that have been enacted since the last update in 2003. The new manual will provide further guidance on the enforcement program to ensure consistency and quality of investigations. Lastly, the data collection system has been modified and the audit program strengthened and expanded to ensure complaints are handled in a timely manner.
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