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Whistleblower protection program undergoes changes

whistleblowerIn what OSHA calls a major restructuring of its Office of the Whistleblower Protection program, the program is being moved from the Directorate of Enforcement Programs to the agency's Office of the Assistant Secretary.

OSHA says the move represents a "significantly elevated priority status" for whistleblower enforcement, which now will be overseen directly by Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Dr. David Michaels.

"The ability of workers to speak out and exercise their rights without fear of retaliation provides the backbone for some of American workers' most essential legal protections," said Michaels. "OSHA's internal improvement initiatives, including this realignment, demonstrate the agency's steadfast commitment to strengthening a program that is critically important to the protection of worker rights."

The restructuring is part of the agency's multifaceted plan for strengthening the enforcement of 21 whistleblower laws under its jurisdiction. Implementation of the plan began with the fiscal year 2012 budget as OSHA established a separate budgetary line item for the whistleblower program to better track and hold accountable its activities and accomplishments.

In addition to the change at OSHA's national office, the agency has launched pilot projects to evaluate structural changes in 10 field regions that could further strengthen the whistleblower program.

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