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New OSHA whistleblower manual released

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released a new edition of its Whistleblower Investigations Manual.

The updated manual is one of a series of measures announced in August to improve OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program, which enforces the whistleblower provisions of 21 statutes. The Labor Department has recently stepped up enforcement of one of these laws, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. In mid-September, two companies were cited for retaliating against employees who reported conduct which violated Securities and Exchange Commission laws. The companies were ordered to rehire the employees and pay back wages, interest, and compensatory damages.

The new edition of the Whistleblower Investigations 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. Employers should note the following changes included in the updated manual:

  • OSHA investigators are required to make every attempt to interview a complainant in all cases.
  • Whistleblower complaints under any statute may be filed orally or in writing, and in any language. OSHA will be accepting electronically filed complaints on its Whistleblower Protection Program website.
  • The guide provides investigators expanded guidance on dealing with uncooperative respondents and issuing administrative subpoenas during whistleblower investigations.

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