OSHA Whistleblower Protection

Posted by Melissa Hall in #YHSafetyTips, Aug 14, 2019

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 whistleblower statutes and protects employees from retaliation for reporting violations observed on the job.

From 2012 through 2018 OSHA saw a 74% increase in complaint filings and a 75% increase in case completions.

In 2019 the U.S. Department of Labor redesigned the website for OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program with the aim of improving the experience for the users. The new website features a streamlined design and highlights important information for employers and employees on more than 20 statutes. Videos are utilized on the homepage and showcase the covered industries including the railroad, airline, and securities industries. The new website also features an improved navigation which allows visitors to easily access information including filing deadlines and resources.

Federal employees are not covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act and are not covered for retaliation allegations. All federal agencies must establish procedures that ensure employees do not suffer retaliation for reporting unsafe or unhealthy working conditions.

What Is Retaliation

Retaliation occurs when a manager, supervisor, or administrator fires an employee or takes an adverse action against the employee for engaging in a protected activity.

Examples of adverse actions include:

  • Firing or laying off
  • Demoting
  • Denying overtime
  • Denying benefits
  • Failing to hire, rehire, or promote
  • Intimidation or harassment
  • Threatening
  • Reassignment to a less desirable position
  • Reducing pay our hours
  • Isolating, mocking, or falsely accusing employee of poor performance

Employees that believe they were retaliated against can file a whistleblower complaint with OSHA. If you work in a state that has an OSHA-approved State Plan, you can file a complaint under section 11 (c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act with Federal OSHA and with the State Plan under the equivalent statutory provision.

How to File a Whistleblower Complaint

Whistleblower complaints can be filed using any of the following methods.

Online
Use the online whistleblower complaint form to submit your complaint directly to OSHA. If you are in a state that has an OSHA-approved State Plan your complaint will be forwarded to the appropriate State Plan for follow up.

Fax/Mail/ Email
You may also fax, mail, or email a printed copy of the whistleblower complaint form or a letter describing your complaint to your local OSHA Regional or Area Office. Your correspondence should include your name, mailing address, email address, and telephone number so OSHA can contact you if needed.

Telephone
Call your local OSHA Regional or Area Office and OSHA staff can discuss your complaint and respond to your questions.

In Person
Visit your local OSHA Regional or Area Office and OSHA staff can accept your verbal or written complaint and provide additional information as needed.

Time frames to file a complaint range from 30 days to 180 days based on the applicable whistleblower statute and start when the hostile action such as firing or demotion occurs and is communicated to the affected employee.

For more information on specific time limits, visit the OSHA Whistleblower Website.

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