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By Bruce Rolfsen
A new directive for conducting whistleblower investigations was issued Sept. 20 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to address criticisms raised in two government reports.
The 249-page Whistleblower Investigations Manual (CPL 02-03-003) is another step in OSHA's overhaul of how it handles allegations of employers retaliating against workers for complaining about company practices and potentially illegal activities. The update replaces a manual issued in August 2003.
David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for safety and health, said Aug. 1 that OSHA would publish a revised manual as part of broader changes to whistleblower protection efforts, prompted in part by critical reports by the Government Accountability Office and the Labor Department Inspector General (41 OSHR 785, 9/15/11).
The GAO inquiry alleged serious shortcomings in the way OSHA trained its inspectors, audited the program, ensured consistent policies and procedures at the regional level, and kept accurate data on the outcomes of many cases (40 OSHR 788, 9/23/10).
According to OSHA, the significant changes in the new manual:
The other initiatives approved by Michaels included putting the whistleblower program within the direct jurisdiction of his office, establishing a “more robust” outreach program to employees, and ensuring intensive training for inspectors (41 OSHR 667, 8/4/11).
The new Whistleblowers Investigation Manual is available at http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/Directive_pdf/CPL_02-03-003.pdf .
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