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OSHA Whistle Blower Protection

Posted: March 2, 2012

OSHA is the enforcement agency for a variety of laws that offer whistle blower protection for employees and other protected groups. OSHA also enforces its own whistle blower protection regulations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. OSHA shares this responsibility for protecting whistle blowers with state plan OSHA states.

NFDA members are covered by Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and by similar safety and health-related whistle blower protections in OSHA state plan states. In general, the OSHA law prohibits the discharge or discrimination against any employee who:

  • Files a complaint with OSHA.
  • Seeks an OSHA inspection.
  • Participates in an OSHA inspection.
  • Participates or testifies in any proceeding related to an OSHA inspection.
  • Reports a work-related injury, illness or fatality.

If an employee feels that they have been discriminated against because they blew the whistle on their employer, they have 30 days to file a complaint alleging such a violation.

If, after an investigation, it is determined that the law was violated and discrimination has taken place, the employee would be free to pursue civil action in a U.S. District Court to stop the discrimination or obtain other relief, such as re-hiring or reinstatement to the employee's former position with back pay.

This protection for whistle blowers has been part of the Occupational Safety and Health Act since it was enacted and is part of every state plan state's OSHA program. Additional information is available at www.whistleblowers.gov.

For more information you may call the NFDA OSHA Hotline, which can assist with nearly all inquiries. NFDA members can also call NFDA OSHA Counsel Edward M. Ranier with OSHA-related legal questions at 410-967-1812.