By Scott D. Huffstetler

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is seeking public comments regarding a proposal for a new online whistleblower complaint form. The form, which would allow whistleblowers to electronically submit whistleblower complaints directly to OSHA, is part of OSHA’s proposal to revise the information collection requirements for handling retaliation complaints filed with OSHA under various whistleblower protection statutes. The proposal may be accessed electronically here, and comments are due on or before March 18, 2013.

OSHA is responsible for investigating alleged violations of whistleblower provisions contained in a number of statutes. These statutes include:

  • Occupational Safety and Health Act, 29 U.S.C. 660
  • Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, 15 U.S.C. 2651
  • International Safe Container Act, 46 U.S.C. 80507
  • Safe Drinking Water Act, 42 U.S.C. 300j-9(i)
  • Federal Water Pollution Control Act, 33 U.S.C. 1367
  • Toxic Substances Control Act, 15 U.S.C. 2622
  • Solid Waste Disposal Act, 42 U.S.C. 6971
  • Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7622
  • Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, 42 U.S.C. 5851
  • Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. 9610
  • Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century
  • Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability Act of 2002 (Title VIII of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002)
  • Pipeline Safety and Improvement Act of 2002
  • National Transit Systems Security Act and the Federal Railroad Safety Act
  • Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008
  • Affordable Care Act, 29 U.S.C. 218C
  • Consumer Financial Protection Act, Section 1057 of the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Public Law 111-203
  • Seaman’s Protection Act, 46 U.S.C. 2114, as amended by Section 611 of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010, Public Law 111-281
  • Section 402 of the FDA Food Safety and Modernization Act, Public Law 111-353
  • Section 31307 of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, 49 U.S.C. 30171

The electronic form expands the methods in which a whistleblower may submit a complaint to OSHA under one of these statutes – either by submitting the form electronically directly through the Internet; or by downloading, completing, and submitting the form to OSHA by fax, mail, or hand-delivery. The proposed form will enable workers to electronically submit whistleblower complaints directly to OSHA 24-hours a day. Last year, a record number of whistle-blower cases were filed and resolved by OSHA. This was after a series of initiatives were launched during the 2012 fiscal year to strengthen OSHA’s whistleblower protection programs. It is believed that the current proposals, if accepted and initiated in 2013, will result in an even greater number of OSHA whistleblower claims being filed.