Thursday, December 19, 2013

OSHA Launches Online Whistleblower Claim System

To protect employee "whistleblowers", on December 5, 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") launched an online whistleblower complaint system at

"Whistleblowing activity" includes reporting a work-related injury, illness, or fatality, participating in safety and health activities, or reporting a statutory or regulatory violation.

Although known primarily as the federal agency responsible for regulating workplace health and safety under Occupational Safety and Health Act, OSHA's "Whistleblower Protection Program" enforces the whistleblower protection provisions of 22 different federal statutes including:
°Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act;
°Clean Air Act;
°Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act;
°Consumer Financial Protection Act;
°Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act;
°Energy Reorganization Act;
°Federal Railroad Safety Act;
°Federal Water Pollution Control Act;
°International Safe Container Act;
°National Transit Systems Security Act;
°Pipeline Safety Improvement Act;
°Safe Drinking Water Act;
°Sarbanes-Oxley Act;
°Seaman's Protection Act;
°Section 1558 of the Affordable Care Act;
°Solid Waste Disposal Act;
°Surface Transportation Assistance Act;
°FDA Food Safety Modernization Act; and
°Toxic Substances Control Act.

Mirroring the existing paper complaint form, OSHA's free online system provide workers with an accessible way to file whistleblower complaints without fear of retaliation. 

Workers can now file whistle blower complaints by calling an agency hotline or a regional office, submitting a written complaint, or using the online form. 

Given the ease with which employees now can file complaints, employers should anticipate a likely whistleblower claims increase by updating internal policies and educating managers on the whistleblower statutes.