OSHA to Form Whistleblower Protection Committee

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced its intent to establish a Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee. The committee will advise, consult with and make recommendations to the secretary of labor and the assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health on ways to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and transparency of OSHA's administration of whistleblower protections.

"Workers who expose securities and financial fraud, adulterated foods, air and water pollution, or workplace safety hazards have a legal right to speak out without fear of retaliation, and the laws that protect these whistleblowers also protect the health, safety and well-being of all Americans," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "Establishing a federal advisory committee is another important effort to strengthen protections for whistleblowers."

In particular, the committee will advise OSHA on the development and implementation of improved customer service models, enhancements in the investigative and enforcement process, training, and regulations governing OSHA investigations. In addition, it will advise OSHA in cooperative activities with other federal agencies that are responsible for areas covered by the whistleblower protection statutes enforced by OSHA.

"This new Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee will help our agency sustain an open dialogue with stakeholders and experts, and will promote the transparency and accountability that are the cornerstone of this administration," added Michaels.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and 20 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various workplace, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws.

Under these various whistleblower provisions enacted by Congress, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or the government. Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor for an investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program.

Related Editorial:

OSHA Gives Whistleblower Protection Higher Priority

OSHA Fines Union Pacific $615,000 for Retaliating against Whistleblowers

OSHA Aims to Improve Whistleblower Protections

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