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OSHA to Strengthen Whistle-Blower Protections, Review Program

August 5, 2011
Related Topics: Discrimination and EEOC Compliance, Workforce Planning, Latest News
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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Aug. 1 that it is introducing new measures to strengthen its whistle-blower protection program, and released an internal report detailing its top-to-bottom review of the program.

OSHA enforces the whistle-blower provisions of 21 statutes that protect from retaliation employees who report violations of various laws in a wide range of areas, including workplace safety, financial reform and health care reform.

For instance, a provision in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that gives financial incentives to corporate whistle-blowers could result in headaches for corporate directors and officers.

The changes to be made in the program include:
• The program will report directly to OSHA’s assistant secretary instead of being housed in OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement.
• A national whistle-blower training conference in September will be attended by all whistle-blower investigators from federal and state plans, as well as Labor Department solicitors who work on whistle-blower cases.
• OSHA will issue an updated edition of its Whistleblower Investigations Manual.
• OSHA’s internal collection system has been modified, and its audit program has been strengthened and expanded.

OSHA said in a written statement that a Government Accountability Office audit of the whistle-blower program in 2009 and 2010 highlighted various challenges. In addition, OSHA’s internal report, issued in December, concluded there were “significant deficiencies and challenges” facing the program.  

Filed by Judy Greenwald of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, email editors@workforce.com.

 

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