Whistleblower Investigation Process Clarified in Updated OSHA Manual

OSHA whistleblowersOSHA has updated its Whistleblower Investigation Manual* to help employers, workers and their representatives understand the investigative process and how to request documents from OSHA during and after an investigation.

The new material affirms that the standard for all whistleblower investigations is whether there is “reasonable cause to believe” that a violation occurred. The manual also provides guidance on disclosure requests under the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower protection provisions of the OSH Act and 21 other statutes protecting workers who report violations of laws in various industries. In fiscal year 2015, OSHA helped award more than $25 million to whistleblowers across the country – a reminder to employers that workers have a right to speak up, without fear of retaliation, when they believe that their safety and health is at risk.

OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than twenty whistleblower statutes protecting employees who report violations of various workplace safety and health, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws.

Rights afforded by these whistleblower protection laws include, but are not limited to, worker participation in safety and health activities, reporting a work-related injury, illness or fatality, or reporting a violation of the statutes herein.