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January 19, 2017
OSHA issues antiretaliation recommendations

Even as OSHA faces ongoing legal action over its electronic recordkeeping and antiretaliation standard, the agency has issued recommended practices to help employers create an environment where employees feel comfortable speaking up. Get more here.

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The new OSHA publication, Recommended Practices for Anti-Retaliation Programs (https://www.osha.gov/Publications/ OSHA3905.pdf), applies not just to safety and health, but to all public and private sector workplaces covered by the 22 whistleblower protection laws enforced by OSHA. The agency says the recommendations are adaptable to most workplaces and can be adjusted for factors like size, type of workforce, and type of work performed. The concepts addressed can be used to create a new program or enhance an existing one.

The document outlines five key elements of an antiretaliation program:

  • Management leadership, commitment, and accountability
  • A system for listening to, and resolving employees’ safety and compliance concerns
  • A system for receiving and responding to reports of retaliation
  • Anti-retaliation training for employees and managers
  • Program oversight

OSHA notes in the document that the recommendations are advisory and do not create or address any legal obligations. According to the content, “An anti-retaliation program that enables all members of the workforce, including permanent employees, contractors, and temporary workers, to voice their concerns without fear of retaliation can help employers learn of problems and appropriately address them before they become more difficult to correct.”

Such programs not only help employers stay in compliance with federal laws, but also create a positive workplace culture that guards against illegal retaliation.

Said Jordan Barab, acting OSHA chief, “These recommended practices will provide companies with the tools to create a robust antiretaliation program. In the long run, it’s good for workers and good for business.”

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