The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that workers who blow the whistle on safety violations and other unlawful practices “play an important role in assuring compliance with federal laws.”
But, say workplace safety advocates, too many times workers don’t speak up about safety and health problems on the job because they fear retaliation from their employers, even though it’s illegal.
OSHA now has a new website specifically dedicated to its whistleblower protection program, www.whistleblowers.gov. The site is designed to provide workers, employers and the public with easily accessible information about the 18 federal whistleblower protection statutes that OSHA currently administers. OSHA chief David Michaels says:
OSHA doesn’t work unless workers feel secure in exercising their rights. This Web page is part of OSHA’s promise to stand by those workers who have the courage to come forward when they know their employer is cutting corners on safety and health.
The new site provides information about workers’ rights and provisions under each of the whistleblower statutes and regulations that OSHA enforces. It also has program fact sheets and information on how a worker can file a retaliation complaint with OSHA. Along with the direct URL, the site can be accessed at www.osha.gov by clicking on the “Whistleblower Protection” link.
Federal workplace safety laws allow workers to file discrimination complaints with OSHA if they believe their employer has retaliated against them for exercising a broad range of rights protected by law. These rights include filing safety or health complaints with OSHA and seeking an OSHA inspection, participating in an OSHA inspection, participating or testifying in any proceeding related to occupational safety or health, or reporting an injury or illness to their employer.
The Miner Safety and Health Act (H.R. 5663) now before Congress would strengthen whistleblower protections for miners covered by the Mine Safety and Health Administration and workers covered by OSHA.
About The Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and have written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety.