OSHA Wants to Encourage More Employees to Become Whistleblowers

By Eric B. Meyer

In an announcement yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said that it is implementing additional measures to strengthen the Whistleblower Protection Program.

According the OSHA press release, the significant changes to the Whistleblower Protection Program include:

Restructuring

OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program will report directly to the assistant secretary instead of being housed in the Directorate of Enforcement. In addition, changes in field structure are currently being pilot tested. Commencing with its fiscal 2012 budget, OSHA established a separate line item for the whistleblower program to better track and hold accountable its activities and accomplishments.

These changes, in addition to the 25 new investigators added, should significantly improve the administration and stature of the program.

Training

OSHA will hold a national whistleblower training conference in September which will be attended by all whistleblower investigators from both federal and state plans, as well as by Labor Department solicitors who work on whistleblower cases.

In addition, OSHA will offer several other investigator training events, and will strive to ensure that all investigators and supervisors who have not received the mandatory training courses will receive them by the end of the calendar year.

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Program Policy

OSHA revised and will soon issue a new edition of the Whistleblower Investigations Manual that updates current procedures and includes information on the new laws enacted since the manual was last updated in 2003. This new manual will provide further guidance on the enforcement program to help ensure consistency and quality of investigations.

Internal Systems

The data collection system has been modified and the audit program is being strengthened and expanded to ensure that complaints are properly handled on a timely basis.

A copy of OSHA’s internal review report is available here. If OSHA can raise its game, then employers who run unsafe workplaces will need to do the same.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

You know that scientist in the action movie who has all the right answers if only the government would just pay attention? Eric B. Meyer, Esq. gets companies HR-compliant before the action sequence. Serving clients nationwide, Eric is a Partner at FisherBroyles, LLP, which is the largest full-service, cloud-based law firm in the world, with approximately 210 attorneys in 21 offices nationwide. Eric is also a volunteer EEOC mediator, a paid private mediator, and publisher of The Employer Handbook (www.TheEmployerHandbook.com), which is pretty much the best employment law blog ever. That, and he's been quoted in the British tabloids. #Bucketlist.

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