The changes include program restructuring, more training for investigators, an updated policy manual, and expanded data collection systems and audit programs. The goal is to "significantly strengthen OSHA's enforcement of the 21 whistleblower laws that Congress charged OSHA with administering," the agency said.
Congress enacted whistleblower provision laws that "prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government," OSHA said. "Employees who believe they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor for an investigation by the Whistleblower Protection Program."
The changes follow a two-year audit by the Government Accountability Office that highlighted challenges related to:
- Transparency and accountability.
- Training for investigators and managers.
- Internal communications and audit program.
Among the changes are a restructuring of the program so the head of the whistleblower program will report directly to the assistant secretary instead of being housed in the Directorate of Enforcement. Additionally, OSHA established a separate budget line item for the program to "better track and hold accountable its activities and accomplishments."
A national whistleblower training conference is being held this month for all whistleblower investigators from federal and state plans. Several additional training events will be offered this year.
A new edition of the Whistleblower Investigations Manual is being released that updates current procedures and provides information on laws enacted since the original release in 2003.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
August 29, 2011
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