It’s critical for every employer to foster a culture of open and honest communication within the workplace. This type of culture will not only spark creativity and promote efficiency, it will help protect employees from a variety of hazards. This is most important when it comes to voicing concerns in the workplace. Employees need to be able to feel free and comfortable informing the proper audience when there are issues within an office or work site, especially when they involve the safety of coworkers and non-employees. This is why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) protects individuals raising health, safety, and potential violation concerns via its Whistleblower Protection Program. The program enforces the whistleblower provisions of 22 federal statutes. If you have questions about OSHA programs and rules, contact one of the OSHA attorneys at Trent Cotney P.A.
To promote the protection of those who raise concerns within companies, OSHA recently created a publication providing guidelines for establishing or improving an anti-retaliation program. The following are several items of note in regards to the guidelines publication:
- The publication, Recommended Practices for Anti-Retaliation Programs, is intended to provide tips for creating an anti-retaliation program. It does not establish or change OSHA policy.
- The publication lists five elements for establishing an effective anti-retaliation program. These include:
- Management leadership, commitment and accountability: It takes a commitment from leadership to prevent retaliation against whistleblowers. The publication recommends creating a system for reporting hazards and compliance concerns and training for managers, among many other suggestions.
- A system for listening to and resolving employees’ safety and compliance concerns: OSHA states that multiple channels should be established to voice concerns and that measures must be put in place to maintain confidentiality.
- A system for receiving and responding to reports of retaliation: OSHA encourages companies to establish an independent entity for reporting about retaliation.
- Anti-retaliation training for employees and managers: This training should cover, among other items, relevant laws, company policies and the overt and subtle ways in which retaliation takes place.
- Program oversight: OSHA expressed the importance of making sure that an anti-retaliation program has oversight to ensure that it remains effective in reaching its goals.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.