The number of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) whistleblower claims has increased substantially in the past few years. According to OSHA, there were 2,787 claims in 2012, compared with 1,934 claims in 2005. In addition, thousands of employees have brought claims under OSHA whistleblower protection laws, alleging that their employers retaliated against them for bringing forward safety concerns or participating in OSHA investigations.
Employers must be prepared for these claims, from handling internal complaints that could lead to federal whistleblower claims to responding appropriately to government inquiries.
Done correctly and with the right facts, it is possible to defend against OSHA whistleblower claims. In fact, the majority of claims in 2012 were dismissed (1,665 claims) or withdrawn (565 claims). Even if a claim is eventually dismissed, however, employers can still face harmful exposure caused by an OSHA whistleblower complaint.
What can your company do to protect itself when an employee makes a claim with OSHA?