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OSHA to test alternative dispute resolution for whistleblower complaints

October 15, 2012

whistleblowerOSHA is launching an alternative dispute resolution pilot program for complaints filed with the agency’s Whistleblower Protection Program. The test program is aimed at helping complainants and employers resolve disputes in a cooperative and voluntary manner.

The program will be implemented in two OSHA regions and offer two voluntary methods of ADR: early resolution and mediation. When a whistleblower complaint is filed with OSHA in one of the pilot regions, the parties will be notified of their ADR options and may work through an OSHA regional ADR coordinator to use these methods.

"OSHA is committed to fair, effective and timely enforcement of the whistleblower laws delegated to us by Congress," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Alternative dispute resolution can provide immediate relief and finality to both parties."

The two OSHA regions that will participate in the pilot are headquartered in Chicago and San Francisco. The Chicago Regional Office is responsible for whistleblower investigations filed with federal OSHA in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. The San Francisco Regional Office is responsible for whistleblower investigations filed with federal OSHA in Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada, as well as various Pacific Islands including the commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and American Samoa.

OSHA administers the whistleblower provisions of 22 statutes. All of these laws cover millions of public and private sector employees in health care, food, finance, air travel, pipeline, transit, rail and other industries. OSHA receives approximately 2,500 whistleblower complaints annually. Information on the pilot program can be viewed at http://s.dol.gov/WV. Additional information on OSHA's whistleblower program is available at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.