Better Bone Up on Whistleblower Policies!

Consider this a wake-up call to get on top of your state and federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration checklists as they apply to whistleblowing, and where you’re fuzzy, start cramming NOW.

This story from the Society for Human Resource Management (subscription site) suggests there are lots of problems out there in states and territories that run their own occupational-safety programs when it comes to how whistleblowers are being responded to and treated.

Here’s the entire rundown — from the U.S. Department of Labor — of the State Occupational Safety and Health Plans’ Federal Annual Monitoring and Evaluation (FAME) Reports, so you can find your own state’s status and all the whislteblowing references therein.

Problems highlighted in the SHRM piece include failing to interview workers subject to alleged retaliation and their supervisors, the existence of state laws that could discourage complaints, shoddy record-keeping and poor case-file management.

More specifically, Arizona’s OS program lacks a consistent policy or practice of informing complainants of their right to file with the federal OSHA concurrently, Hawaii’s OSHA lacks a separate whistleblower-retaliation-investigation department, and California and Nevada are leaving files incomplete and often devoid of interviews with retaliation complainants.

Granted, this story points to state agencies in dire need of cleaning up their acts, but I have no doubt that workers filing whistleblower-retaliation complaints who don’t get the treatment they deserve under the law, will go after the offending employer as well.