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OSHA Whistleblower Complaints Becoming More Common Across the United States

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports an increase in whistleblower complaints, particularly over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and many of which are related to the pandemic itself.

For the time from February 18 through May 31, there were 4,101 whistleblower complaints filed with the agency, an increase of 30 percent over the number of complaints filed in the same time period last year. OSHA Region 5, which represents the Midwestern states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, received more complaints than any other OSHA region.

More complaints means more delays in investigation, but OSHA does continue to work through a backlog of reports. However, due to delays some whistleblowers may be more likely to look for relief in court.

Employers should be aware of the increased number of whistleblower complaints and the potential risks they face when whistleblowers come forward with information. Given the sheer number of pandemic-related complaints that are causing the increase in reporting numbers, employers should make sure to take appropriate action to prevent compliance issues.

  • Return to work plans: For employers whose workers are still remote, it is important o have a return to work plan in place that addresses all important COVID-19 information and contingencies for the specific industry and location.
  • Basic prevention: All employers should follow health guidelines regarding basic prevention, including hygiene and social distancing measures.
  • Anti-retaliation: All anti-retaliation policies should be updated to include complaints regarding health and safety, especially as relates to COVID-19.
  • Communication: Employers should remain in regular communication with workers about their rights and workplace protections.
  • Methods for reporting: Employers should have an easy outlet for internal complaints of health and safety issues, including allowing employees to make anonymous complaints.

For more information about OSHA complaints and the steps employers should be taking to improve workplace safety during the pandemic, contact an experienced whistleblower lawyer at Kardell Law Group.

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