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.