Overview of OSHA whistleblower protections

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) maintains a robust whistleblowing program which encourages and protects individuals who wish to report a safety concern from retaliatory penalties placed on them by their employers.

You may submit a whistleblower report multiple ways, including an online form, a document which you may print, fill out and mail in, or by telephoning or writing a letter to your local OSHA office. OSHA will then conduct an interview with the whistleblower to assess whether or not an investigation is necessary.

OSHA has official protections legislation in place for a large variety of different hazardous situations to employees. They prevent retaliation against employees who report hazardous safety conditions or safety violations. Some of them include:

  • The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act
    • Protects employees that report incidents of asbestos
  • The Clean Air Act
    • Prohibits retaliation against employees that report issues regarding air quality
  • Federal Water Pollution Control Act
    • Prohibits retaliation against employees that report incidents of polluting water sources
  • Solid Waste Disposal Act
    • Protects employees that report violations relating to the disposal of solid and hazardous waste
  • Federal Railroad Safety Act/ National Transit Systems Security Act
    • Protects employees of railroad carriers and contractors and transit employees who report hazardous safety or security conditions
  • Pipeline Safety Improvement Act
    • Protects employees who report violations regarding pipeline safety and security
  • Surface Transportation Assistance Act
    • Protects truck drivers and transit employees that refuse to violate safety regulations
  • Affordable Care Act
    • Protects employees who report violations regarding discrimination, denial of coverage based on preexisting conditions or insurance company violations
  • Consumer Financial Protection Act
    • Provides protections for employees that violate financial policies placed by the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, such as Wall Street infractions or fraudulent activity
  • Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act
    • Protects employees that report violations of consumer product safety, including manufacturers, importers, distributors, private labelers, and retailers
  • FDA Food Safety Modernization Act
    • Protects employees of food manufacturers, distributors, packers, and transporters that report any violation regarding the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Reporting a violation is just the beginning

OSHA does their best to keep businesses honest and keep employees safe with mandatory safety standards. Protecting whistleblowers is another step they take to ensure that illegal and unsafe activities do not go on undiscovered behind the scenes. When every employee is a potential whistleblower, it is harder for companies to try and intimidate or discourage employees from reporting violations with punitive measures.

Employees should be aware not only of the standardized safety practices, but also of these protections to ensure they aren’t afraid to voice a concern about worker safety. It very well could save lives. However, an OSHA investigation and any fines levied may just be the beginning of the consequences for a business that fails to properly adhere to established safety standards.  If you, or somebody you love, has been victimized or punished as a result of coming forward with a safety concern, then that company is in the wrong and you are completely justified to file suit against them.

At Altman & Altman LLP, we have over 40 years of experience fighting with negligent companies that cause pain and suffering in their employees. If any employer thinks they can intimidate or punish a worker for coming forward with a concern, we will hold them responsible for their illegal actions.  Our team of legal professionals is standing by to hear your case. Consultations are completely complementary, and we do not receive any payments unless you are successful in your claim. Call us today at 617-492-3000 or toll-free at 800-481-6199.  We are available 24/7.

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