OSHA recently announced an initiative to strengthen the Whistleblower Protection Program, which protects workers’ rights provided under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) to report safety issues and work-related injury or illness without fear of retaliation. This initiative is in response to a Government Accountability Office assessment and internal investigation of the program. A copy of OSHA’s internal investigation, entitled “Top to Bottom Report and Summary of OSHA Actions,” can be found at www.whistleblowers.gov.

The changes in the program will focus on four areas: restructuring, training, program policy and internal systems. Namely, in addressing these four areas, OSHA is making an effort to improve customer service and increase the consistency and timeliness of investigations in the program.

The Whistleblower Protection Program will now report directly to OSHA’s assistant secretary and has gained an additional 25 investigators since last year. In addition, the organization is seeking a $6.1 million budget increase to hire almost 50 more investigators and achieve training objectives. The changes in program policy and internal systems will bring updates to the published investigations manual and make revisions to OSHA’s information database and Management Accountability Program.

OSHA takes the rights of employees very seriously, and your company should too. Educating employees of their rights to participate in keeping your workplace safe is a great, proactive way to protect those rights.