July 22, 2014

OSHA affirms support for whistle-blowers

WASHINGTON – An official of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) this week affirmed the agency’s support for whistle-blower protection.

OSHA enforces provisions of 19 laws protecting employees who report violations of various securities, trucking, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, railroad, public transportation, workplace safety and health, consumer product safety, health care reform, and financial reform laws.

“OSHA’s Whistle-blower Protection Program exists because of a decades-old belief held by Congress, stakeholders, employers and society that whistle-blowers play an essential role in protecting workers and the public, said Dr. David Michaels, OSHA’s assistant secretary of labor.

“Whistle-blowers can make the difference between lawful workplaces and places where workers fear for their livelihoods and even their lives if they raise concerns,” Michaels said.

“With our available resources,” he said, “OSHA is working hard to ensure that whistle-blowers are protected from retaliation. We are in the process of a top-to-bottom review of OSHA’s whistle-blower protection program.”

The comments came following a General Accountability Office audit of the OSHA Whistle-blower Protection Program. “OSHA has already begun taking action on items recommended in the GAO report, such as requiring all investigators and their supervisors to complete mandatory investigator training over the next 18 months, setting strategic goals and performance measures for the whistleblower program, and providing new equipment to field staff,” Michaels said.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to assure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

Detailed information on employee whistle-blower rights, including fact sheets, is available at www.whistleblowers.gov