Wednesday, January 18, 2017

OSHA suggests employer best practices for anti-retaliation programs

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published recommended best practices to protect from retaliation employees who report workplace safety or other concerns under any of the 22 statutes OSHA enforces.

The document, entitled, Recommended Practices for Anti-Retaliation Programs [pdf], outlines five key elements of an effective anti-retaliation program:
  1. Management leadership, commitment, and accountability
  2. System for listening to and resolving employees' safety and compliance concerns
  3. System for receiving and responding to reports of retaliation
  4. Anti-retaliation training for employees and managers
  5. Program oversight
While OSHA does admit that its recommendations are "advisory" and "do not interpret or create any legal obligations," OSHA is quick to point out that it interprets retaliation broadly and suggests that it is in the best interest of employers to adopt an effective and meaningful anti-retaliation program. Nevertheless, the document offers good pointers for employer looks for guidance on key topics such as how to create a system for listening to and resolving employees’ safety and compliance concerns, how to ensure the prompt resolution of employee complaints, and how to discipline a complaining employee without appearing retaliatory,

Retaliation has been a hot-button issue for OSHA over the past eight years. It will be interesting to watch whether this remains the case in President-Elect Trump's administration, especially if OSHA loses funding to support to resources necessary to investigate all but the must egregious of retaliation complaint.