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OSHA Publishes New Regulations to Protect Workers

In September, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration released interim final regulations designed to protect workers who express concerns related to safety, security and health in their place of work. These rules, which establish the protocol for managing worker retaliation complaints, allow employees to file claims over the phone in addition to filing written claims in a number of non-English languages.

As Dr. David Michaels (Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA) explains, “When workers believe their employers are violating certain laws or government regulations, they have the right to file a complaint and should not fear retaliation. Silenced workers are not safe workers.”  Therefore, as Michaels concludes, “Changes in the whistleblower provisions make good on the promise to stand by those workers who have the courage to come forward when they believe their employer is violating the law and cutting corners on a variety of safety, health and security concerns in the affected industries.”

OSHA’s new regulations cover workers with complaints across a range of industries, including railroad, public transit, commercial motor carrier and consumer product industries; in addition, they also establish more consistency among the agency’s complaint procedures. OSHA’s interim final rules create both procedures and timelines for processing complaints under the whistleblower sections of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

OSHA implements the whistleblower requirements of the OSH Act and 18 other statutes that protect workers who report breaches of airline, railroad, environmental, public transportation, securities, commercial motor carrier, pipeline, nuclear power, and health care reform laws. Details on these new statutes will be available to the public at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.

TheOccupational Safety and Health Actof 1970 declared that state and private employers are responsible for ensuring safe workplaces for their employees. On behalf of American workers, OSHA assumed the role of overseeing these conditions and ensuring compliance by establishing and enforcing standards throughout the American workplace. In addition, it makes education, training, and assistance available to both employers and workers to support that objective.

If you are in need of a workers’ compensation attorney in Seattle or Washington, please contact an attorney at Emery Reddy today.

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