US Capitol-flag
Photo: uschools/iStockphoto

Office of Congressional Workplace Rights should have subpoena power, biennial report states

March 18, 2019

Washington — Offices in the legislative branch should be required to comply with investigative subpoenas related to workplace safety and health, the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights states in its biennial report to Congress, issued March 4.

OCWR, formerly known as the Office of Compliance, enforces the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 in much of the same way the secretary of labor enforces the act on the private sector.

Under the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, OCWR must conduct inspections of covered offices at least once during each congressional session and “provide employing offices with technical assistance to comply with the OSH Act’s requirements.”

CAA, however, does not allow for OCWR to issue investigative subpoenas during those inspections. The report also points out that Congress exempted itself from recording workplace injuries and illnesses – a move the OCWR board of directors recommends overturning.


Additionally, the board is seeking to provide whistleblower protections to the legislative branch, and recommends that its office have “investigatory and prosecutorial authority over whistleblower reprisal complaints by incorporating into the CAA the authority granted to the Office of Special Counsel, which investigates and prosecutes claims of whistleblower reprisal in the executive branch.”