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OSHA Issues Recommendations for Anti-Retaliation Programs

By Benjamin J. Sauer

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s Whistleblower Protection Programs issued Recommended Practices for Anti-Retaliation Programs to assist employers with “creat[ing] workplaces in which workers feel comfortable voicing safety and other concerns without fear of retaliation.” The recommendations, while only advisory, apply to all public and private sector employers covered by the 22 whistleblower protections laws enforced by OSHA.

The recommendations, which are available here, provide a brief synopsis of what constitutes retaliation for “protected” activities by employees (such as filing a report of possible violation of the law with OSHA or other government agencies, reporting a concern about a possible violation of the law to the employer, reporting a workplace injury, illness, or hazard, cooperating with law enforcement, or refusing to conduct tasks that would violate the law). The recommendations also provide a framework employers can use to create and implement or to supplement a current anti-retaliation program. According to OSHA, the key elements for an effective anti-retaliation program include:

  • Management leadership, commitment and accountability;
  • A system for listening to and resolving employees’ safety and compliance concerns;
  • A system for receiving and responding to reports of retaliation;
  • Anti-retaliation training for employees and managers; and
  • Program oversight.

Employers regulated under any of the 22 whistleblower protection laws should review their company policies and procedures for conformity with these recommendations. Employers who are unsure if they are regulated by a whistleblower protection law or who have questions about anti-retaliation programs may contact the author, Benjamin J. Sauer, corporate attorney, at 414.225.1432 /