April 17, 2014

OSHA elevates whistleblower priority

OSHA logo; OSHAWASHINGTON – Whistleblower protection administered by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been elevated in agency priority, with the program now administered directly by OSHA’s assistant secretary of labor.

The Department of Labor said the administrative change was an effort “to strengthen employees’ voices in the workplace.”

“The ability of workers to speak out and exercise their rights without fear of retaliation provides the backbone for some of American workers’ most essential legal protections,” said OSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor Dr. David Michaels.   

OSHA also announced that it has launched pilot projects in 10 field regions that could further strengthen the whistleblower program.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, and 20 other statutes — including the Federal Rail Safety Act of 2007 — protecting employees who report alleged violations of various workplace safety regulations.

Over the past several years, OSHA has cited numerous railroads for violations of whistleblower protection, imposing hefty fines and reparations in favor of injured workers who suffered harassment or intimidation for reporting workplace injuries.

An employee may file a whistleblower complaint directly with OSHA, or may contact a UTU designated legal counsel, general chairperson or state legislative director for assistance.

A listing of UTU designated legal counsel is available at http://utu.org/designated-legal-counsel/ or may be obtained from local or general committee officers or state legislative directors.

To view a more detailed OSHA fact sheet, click on the following link:

www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA-factsheet-whistleblower-railroad.pdf