Whistleblower Protection Program: OSHA pilot program aims to streamline complaint intake process
Washington — OSHA is testing a “streamlined” process of filtering complaints via a yearlong Whistleblower Protection Program pilot program.
OSHA enforces whistleblower protections under more than 20 statutes. During the pilot program, launched Feb. 17, whistleblower complaints will be evaluated to determine whether they should go to the screening phase (during which OSHA may conduct an interview if necessary) or be closed during the intake phase. The agency may administratively close a complaint that:
- Isn’t covered by an OSHA whistleblower statute.
- Isn’t filed timely and “equitable tolling is not applicable.”
- Alleges safety or compliance concerns but not retaliation.
OSHA will notify anyone whose complaint is administratively closed during the intake phase via certified mail, email or other communication methods it can track to ensure messages are received. The agency will give complainants a chance to provide more information that may change the closure decision. It also may refer complainants to other agencies or programs.
Under the Whistleblower Protection Program, OSHA is required to contact everyone who files a complaint, including ones that the agency can administratively close.
“The challenge of administering more than two dozen whistleblower protection laws, coupled with an ever-increasing number of new complaint filings, has resulted in an increase in pending cases,” OSHA says in a notice announcing the pilot program. “The requirement to contact complainants before administratively closing a complaint, even where the complaint is facially unfit for investigation, has put great strain on OSHA’s limited investigative resources.”
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