The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health administration is launching a new program for dispute resolution in regards to their Whistleblower Protection Program. OSHA provides 22 statutes for whistleblowers, covering millions of employees in various industries and received 2,500 whistleblower complaints annually. Some people who are injured on the job may also be interested in finding more information about whistleblowers and how OSHA may be able to assist them.
The new program will be implemented in two regions, based in Chicago and San Francisco. Though Pennsylvania is not part of the pilot program, if it is successful we may see these changes implemented in our region. Ohio employees will be a part of the Chicago region's program. The alternative dispute resolution program is based on early resolution and mediation. When a complaint is filed, the parties will be notified of these options and can pursue them through their regional coordinator.
Whistleblowers are often employees who are in a difficult position, and fortunately, most workers will never be in this position. However, for those who are witnesses or are complicit in unethical dealings in their workplace, coming forward is a difficult but very important decision. Using a recent sports example, a Tour de France cyclist came forward about the widespread doping among the athletes. Though it means that his reputation may be damaged, he said that it was for the best of the sport and the sport's future cyclists that the truth be brought forward.
Whistleblowers are provided for by OSHA to be protected from retaliation in the workplace. Though we often post about workplace injuries and accidents, it is important to note and to remind employees that they are provided rights from OSHA in more ways than just safety.
Source: OSHA, "US Department of Labor's OSHA announces alternative dispute
resolution pilot program for whistleblower complaints," Oct. 2, 2012