Creating workplaces where we all watch out for each other

Creating workplaces where we all watch out for each other

OSHA, National Labor Relations Board sign agreement to strengthen information-sharing, outreach on whistleblower protections

Photo: OSHA

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board today announced that the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the board have signed an agreement to strengthen the agencies’ partnership and outline procedures for information-sharing, referrals, training and outreach that explain federal anti-retaliation protections.

The Memorandum of Understanding will also enable OSHA and the board to cooperate more effectively and efficiently to enforce related laws and protect workers’ rights.

“Everyone should be able to exercise their legal rights in the workplace without fear of losing their job or other forms of punishment,” explained Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “Our partnership with the National Labor Relations Board will expand both of our agencies’ impact and effectiveness in protecting workers who raise concerns about workplace violations or retaliation.”

The collaboration will also create mechanisms to increase overall awareness on the rights and remedies available under federal anti-retaliation and whistleblower protection laws. The agencies have jointly created a fact sheet, “Building Safe & Healthy Workplaces by Promoting Worker Voice” to help workers better understand what recourse they have when their rights are violated.

“Workplace safety can be a matter of life and death for workers and so the ability to report workplace hazards without fear of retaliation is critically important,” said National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Jennifer A. Abruzzo. “Today’s MOU will bolster protections for workers to speak out about unsafe working conditions by strengthening coordination between OSHA and the NLRB on our enforcement efforts.”

Learn more about the National Labor Relations Board or call 1-844-762-6572. For assistance in filing a charge, contact your NLRB Regional Office.

For more information on whistleblower protections, visit OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program website.


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by OSHA

OSHA will seek public input, ideas to improve OSHA whistleblower program outreach, training at October meeting

Public comments must be submitted by Nov. 7, 2023

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration will hold an online meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023, to hear public comments and suggestions as part of its effort to improve outreach and training initiatives that support the federal whistleblower laws the agency enforces.

The meeting will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT and is open to the public. The meeting will be offered in English and Spanish. Individuals interested in joining or participating in the meeting must register in English or in Spanish by Oct. 17, 2023. There is no cost to attend.

OSHA is seeking comments, ideas and other input in response to the following questions:

  • How can OSHA deliver better whistleblower customer service?
  • What kind of assistance can OSHA provide to help explain the agency’s whistleblower laws to employees and employers?

Comments may also be submitted to the Federal eRulemaking Portal assigned to Docket No. OSHA-2018-0005. Deadline for submitting comments is Nov. 7, 2023. Read the Federal Register notice for details.

Learn more about OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program.


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by OSHA

Whistleblower Protection

Department of Labor orders Vermont agricultural equipment company to reinstate employee fired for raising environmental concerns

Champlain Valley Equipment must also pay over $145K in back wages, damages

BOSTON – In early June 2022, an employee of a Vermont company that sells and services agricultural equipment observed their employer pumping wastewater from the facility’s service bays onto the ground bordering the Winooski River in Berlin. The employee reported their concerns about the potential harm to the river, first to supervisors and then to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

Shortly after, Champlain Valley Equipment fired the employee and the worker filed a whistleblower complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

After its investigation, OSHA determined that the company’s actions violated the whistleblower provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and ordered Champlain Valley Equipment to reinstate the employee to their former position. The agency also ordered the company to pay the employee $45,015.72 in back wages, interest on the back wages, $50,000 in compensatory damages, $50,000 in punitive damages and the worker’s reasonable attorneys’ fees.

“The employee had a right to raise valid concerns about potential environmental harm to the Winooski River, an important water source,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Galen Blanton in Boston. “Employers who retaliate illegally against employees who engage in federally protected activities will be held accountable.”

In addition to ordering payment of back wages, damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees, OSHA ordered the employer to do the following:

  • Remove any reference to how the employee exercised their rights under the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act from their employment records.

Continue reading “Whistleblower Protection”

US Department of Labor seeking public input, ideas to improve OSHA whistleblower program outreach, training at May meeting

Original article published by OSHA

Public comments must be submitted by May 24, 2023

Photo: OSHA

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration will hold a virtual meeting on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, to hear public comments and suggestions as part of its effort to improve outreach and training initiatives that support the federal whistleblower laws the agency enforces.

The meeting will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT via Zoom and is open to the public. The meeting will be offered in English and Spanish. Individuals interested in joining or participating in the meeting must register in English or Spanish by May 3, 2023. There is no fee to register.

Specifically, OSHA is seeking comments, ideas and other input in response to the following questions:

  1. What can the agency do to improve www.whistleblowers.gov?
  2. What additional materials would be beneficial for the agency to make publicly available on its website?
  3. What types of whistleblower training videos or presentations would be useful for the public to better understand the whistleblower laws enforced by OSHA?
  4. How can OSHA better engage with complainants and respondents?

Comments may also be submitted to the Federal eRulemaking Portal assigned to Docket No. OSHA-2018-0005. Deadline for submitting comments is May 24, 2023. Read the Federal Register notice for details.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

US Department of Labor announces publication of interim final rule for handling criminal antitrust anti-retaliation complaints

Original article published by OSHA

OSHA accepting comments from the public

Photo: OSHA

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently published an interim final rule establishing procedures and timeframes for handling employee retaliation complaints under the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act, enacted Dec. 23, 2020.

The departments of Labor and Justice will collaborate to enforce CAARA to ensure protection of whistleblowers from retaliation for reporting potential criminal antitrust violations or engaging in other protected activities. These activities include testifying, participating or assisting in certain federal government investigations or proceedings. Protected reports include providing information to an employer or the federal government relating to price fixing, bid rigging or market allocation schemes between competitors, or information relating to violations of other criminal laws committed in conjunction with potential violations of the criminal antitrust laws or in conjunction with a Justice Department investigation of potential violations of those laws.

Under President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy, the department is working with other agencies, including the Department of Justice, to prohibit anti-competitive behavior by employers. Such conduct hurts workers by weakening their bargaining power, lowers wages and widens inequality.

OSHA is accepting comments from the public. Submit comments online, identified by Docket Number OSHA-2021-0011 at the Federal eRulemaking Portal. The deadline for submitting comments is April 23, 2023. The interim final rule became effective Feb. 10, 2023.

For additional details about the statute along with instructions on how to file a complaint with OSHA under the CAARA, read the fact sheet on Whistleblower Protection for Reporting Criminal Antitrust Violations.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 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, securities, tax, criminal antitrust and anti-money laundering laws. For more information on whistleblower protections, visit OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Programs webpage.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

COVID-19 whistleblowing

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

See the source image

New fact sheet from OSHA

Washington — A new fact sheet from OSHA details protections for employees who report workplace health and safety concerns related to COVID-19, and includes other relevant information for whistleblowers.

Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 contains anti-retaliation provisions for all employers except most federal, state and local government workers. U.S. Postal Service employees, however, are covered.

Activities related to COVID-19 that are protected include reporting an infection/exposure or unsafe condition to an employer or OSHA. The fact sheet provides examples of retaliation, including being fired or laid off.

OSHA notes that, under the OSH Act, the deadline for filing a retaliation complaint is 30 days after an employee “learns of the adverse action.” It also details what happens after a complaint is filed, what to do about a “dangerous situation” at work and what happens after a Section 11(c) investigation.

If an OSHA regional administrator dismisses the complaint, the employee may seek a review of the dismissal by the Directorate of Whistleblower Protection Programs by filing a request within 15 calendar days of receiving the dismissal letter.


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

Annual DOL OIG report outlines challenges for OSHA, MSHA

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Photo: Department of Labor Office of Inspector General
First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — The COVID-19 pandemic has “exacerbated” the challenges for OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration to use their resources to protect the safety and health of workers, according to the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.

In 2020 DOL Top Management and Performance Challenges, an annual report released Nov. 16, DOL OIG notes that the number of whistleblower complaints has increased during the pandemic while full-time staffing in the OSHA Whistleblower Protection Program has decreased.

MSHA, meanwhile, suspended five of its enforcement activities, including its “accident reduction program,” as of May. The agency also reduced its work in 13 areas, including mine emergency operations, but continued 15 activities at full capacity, including regular safety and health inspections and fatal incident investigations.

“MSHA needs to do more to address the potential backlog of suspended and reduced enforcement activities resulting from the pandemic and develop a plan to manage the backlog once full operations resume,” the report states. “Further, MSHA needs to monitor COVID-19 outbreaks at mines and use that information to determine whether to issue an emergency temporary standard related to the pandemic.”

The report also highlights OSHA’s difficulties in verifying that employers have abated hazards at general industry and construction worksites.

“OSHA needs to complete its initiatives to improve employer reporting of severe injuries and illnesses and enhance staff training on abatement verification, especially of smaller and transient construction employers,” DOL OIG states.

Other challenges noted in the report:

  • A 25-year high in black lung cases and the need to develop strategies to address it. MSHA is studying its August 2014 coal dust rule, but this analysis likely will take a decade or more to be completed, DOL OIG states.
  • Powered-haulage incidents, which accounted for nearly half of mining fatalities in 2017 and 2018. MSHA launched an initiative on the topic in 2018 that includes a website, videos, safety materials and mine-site visits.
  • Both agencies are challenged on how to regulate respirable crystalline silica. As noted in another report released the same day, OSHA and MSHA have different permissible exposure limits.

OSHA revised its National Emphasis Program on respirable silica in February and issued a revised directive for inspection procedures. DOL OIG notes that the agency conducted a webinar for inspectors on how to inspect for silica violations and enforce “various provisions of the new standards.”

“OIG is currently performing an audit to determine the extent OSHA has protected workers from exposure to respirable crystalline silica,” the report states.


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

OSHA moves public meeting on whistleblower program to phone

whistle

Photo: mipan/iStock/Thinkstock

Washington — A public meeting planned by OSHA to gather information on key issues facing its Whistleblower Protection Program will now take place over the phone, the agency has announced.

According to a notice published in the April 14 Federal Register, the meeting is set for 1 p.m. Eastern on May 12. All participants must register separately by May 5. A phone number will be provided after registering.

OSHA enforces whistleblower protections under 23 statutes. To better understand how it can improve the program, OSHA is interested in input regarding:

  • How the agency can deliver better customer service.
  • The kind of assistance the agency can provide to help explain the whistleblower laws it enforces.
  • Where the agency’s outreach efforts should be targeted.

OSHA states it will try to accommodate everyone wishing to speak during the meeting. The agency also notes that the meeting will not be recorded or broadcast.

OSHA reminder: Workers have whistleblower rights during COVID-19 pandemic

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Photo: Michail_Petrov-96/iStockphoto

Washington — Retaliation against workers who report unsafe or unhealthy conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic is illegal, OSHA is reminding employers.

An April 8 press release from the agency lists forms of retaliation, including firings, demotions, denials of promotion or overtime, and reductions in pay or hours.

Workers can file whistleblower complaints with OSHA – online or via phone at (800) 321-6742 – if they believe their employer has retaliated against them. The agency protects whistleblowers under 23 statutes.

“Employees have the right to safe and healthy workplaces,” acting OSHA administrator Loren Sweatt said in the release. “Any worker who believes that their employer is retaliating against them for reporting unsafe working conditions should contact OSHA immediately.”

OSHA announces public meeting on whistleblower program

whistle

Photo: mipan/iStock/Thinkstock

Washington — OSHA has scheduled a public meeting for May 12 to gather information on key issues facing its Whistleblower Protection Program.

According to a notice published in the March 13 Federal Register, the meeting is set for 1 p.m. Eastern at the agency’s headquarters in Washington.

To better understand how it can improve the program, OSHA is interested in input regarding:

  • How the agency can deliver better customer service.
  • The kind of assistance the agency can provide to help explain the whistleblower laws it enforces.
  • Where the agency’s outreach efforts should be targeted.

The deadline to register is April 28. Comments are due May 5.

OSHA enforces whistleblower protections under 23 statutes.