The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released a new edition of its Whistleblower Investigations Manual, one of a series of measures to improve OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program..
According to a report from OSHA, the new edition of the manual contains updates to case handling procedures, information on the new laws enacted since the manual was last updated in 2003, and other information to guide OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program, which addresses retaliation complaints under the 21 whistleblower statutes delegated to OSHA (see below for a full list of statutes). This new manual will provide further guidance to help ensure the consistency and quality of investigations. The updated manual is available at http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=DIRECTIVES&p_id=5061.
"The ability of workers to speak out and exercise their legal rights without fear of retaliation is crucial to many of the legal protections and safeguards that all Americans value," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels when these measures were announced in August. (WCxKit)
Key changes to the manual include:
1. A requirement that investigators make every attempt to interview the complainant in all cases.
2. Clarification that whistleblower complaints under any statute may be filed orally or in writing, and in any language, and that OSHA will be accepting electronically-filed complaints on its Whistleblower Protection Program website, http://www.whistleblowers.gov.
3. Additional clarifications of the investigative process including method and recording of interviews, and processing of dually-filed 11(c) complaints in state plan states.
4. New chapters for processing complaints filed under Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA), 49 U.S.C. §20109, National Transit Systems Security Act (NTSSA), 6 U.S.C. §1142, and Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), 15 U.S.C. §2087, as well as significant updates to the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) and Sarbanes-Oxley chapters, which incorporate statutory amendments and developments in the law.
5. Expanded guidance on dealing with uncooperative respondents and issuing administrative subpoenas during whistleblower investigations. (WCxKit)
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