OSHA today published final procedures for handling whistleblower complaints under the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002 (PSIA). The final rule is identical to an interim final rule published a year ago.

The Pipeline Safety Improvement Act, signed in December 2002, applies to pipeline facilities that transport natural gas or hazardous liquids in interstate commerce. It prohibits pipeline operators from firing or taking adverse action against workers who report concerns about pipeline safety to either the employer or the government. Complainants have 180 days from the alleged discrimination to file with OSHA.

OSHA issued interim final rules for PSIA in April 2004 and requested public comment. No substantive comments were received, and the agency is re-publishing the interim final rule as a final rule.

The final rule includes procedures for submitting complaints, conducting investigations and issuing findings and preliminary orders. It details litigation procedures and the process for objecting to findings and requesting a hearing. The final rule also contains provisions covering withdrawals of complaints and settlements along with judicial review and judicial enforcement.

Since PSIA took effect in 2002, OSHA has received five whistleblower complaints under the law.