The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) recently made significant changes to the continuously improving Whistleblower Protection Program. The enhancements are designed to strengthen the system by reducing oversights and inefficiencies.
“The whistleblower provision laws enacted by Congress prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government. Employees who believe they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor for an investigation by the Whistleblower Protection Program,” OSHA said in a recent press release.
Both OSHA workers and members of the Government Accountability Office employees performed an elaborate assessment of the program’s strengths and weaknesses in 2009 and again in 2010. Their findings brought to light numerous opportunities for improvement, including issues of transparency and accountability as well as various training and communication inadequacies.
“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,” said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. “The new measures will significantly strengthen OSHA’s enforcement of the 21 whistleblower laws that Congress charged OSHA with administering.”
Some of the improvements will include:
- Restructuring in-house lines of communication and authority
- Better training for supervisors and investigators
- Updated procedures and guidelines
- An additional 25 Investigators to strengthen the system
“OSHA is committed to correcting the issues brought to light by the GAO report and our own review,” said Dr. Michaels.