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OSHA Advocates Workplace Anti-Retaliation Practices

Jan. 17, 2017

OSHA's recommended practices are designed to help employers covered by whistleblower protection laws.

OSHA’s new Recommended Practices for Anti-Retaliation Programs are designed to help employers create workplaces in which workers feel comfortable voicing their concerns without fear of retaliation. The recommendations apply to all public and private sector employers covered by the 22 whistleblower protection laws that OSHA enforces.

The new recommendations are adjustable to most workplaces, and employers may tweak them for variables like number of employees, the makeup of the workforce and the type of work performed. The concepts can be used to create a new program or enhance an existing one.

Five key elements of an effective anti-retaliation program make up the document, including:

  1. Management leadership, commitment, and accountability
  2. System for listening to and resolving employees’ safety and compliance concerns
  3. System for receiving and responding to reports of retaliation
  4. Anti-retaliation training for employees and managers
  5. Program oversight

“These recommended practices will provide companies with the tools to create a robust anti-retaliation program,” says Jordan Barab, acting assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “In the long run, it’s good for workers and good for business.”

An initial draft of the Recommended Practices was posted for review and comment in the fall of 2016. The final document incorporates many of these comments, as described here.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of Section 11(c) of the OSH Act, and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various securities laws, trucking, airline, nuclear power, pipeline, environmental, rail, maritime, health care, workplace safety and health regulations, and consumer product safety laws. For more information, visit www.whistleblowers.gov.

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