The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced it plans to establish a Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee to help inform the agency on ways to improve the whistleblowing protections it offers to those who have taken a stand against corporate fraud.
“Workers who expose securities and financial fraud, adulterated foods, air and water pollution, or workplace safety hazards have a legal right to speak out without fear of retaliation, and the laws that protect these whistleblowers also protect the health, safety and well-being of all Americans,” Dr. David Michaels, OSHA’s assistant secretary of labor said in a statement. “Establishing a federal advisory committee is another important effort to strengthen protections for whistleblowers.”
Fighting corporate fraud and recovering taxpayer money also provides the U.S. government with one of its best returns on investment. The government recovers $7 for every $1 it spends on cases brought to court by whistleblowers, up from $5 per $1 spent just three years ago.
Healthcare is one industry that is particularly rife with fraud, prompting the Obama Administration to push for tougher fraud-busting laws and a bigger budget to use them effectively.
In addition to advising OSHA staff on improving its response to workers who make whistleblower claims, the new committee will also recommend enhancements in the investigative and enforcement processes, training, and regulations governing OSHA investigations. The committee is also expected to facilitate cooperation between OSHA and other federal agencies involved in or affected by the agency’s whistleblower protection statutes.
Dr. Michaels said the new Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee will help OSHA “sustain an open dialogue with stakeholders and experts” as well as promoting “transparency and accountability.”
OSHA enforces the Occupational Safety and Health Act and 20 other statutes protecting employees who report fraud in a number of industries, including airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial, food safety, health care, nuclear, securities, and several others.
Federal whistleblower provisions prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who raise various concerns or provide certain information to the employer or the government.
For more information, visit Beasley Allen’s whistleblower laws webpage.