As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Risk and Compliance Journal, on April 29, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) sent a letter to OSHA questioning the effectiveness of OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program (“WPP”). Considering this in context, it should be noted that in 2009 and 2010, two governmental “watchdogs” released reports critical of the WPP’s effectiveness. Since that time, it has been reported that OSHA, which administers the program, has been overhauling the WPP. Senators Grassley and Alexander, however, have concerns.
“We understand that OSHA has made many changes to its whistleblower program in the last four years. However, we have questions about how the program is functioning at this stage,” the letter said. The Senators probe OSHA’s overhaul efforts and question why several of the recommendations set forth in the watchdog reports have yet to be implemented.
They also demand that OSHA produce specific information to enable them to further assess the WPP’s effectiveness in addressing whistleblower claims. The Senators note that while data is available on OSHA’s website regarding “the number of whistleblower cases received and completed each fiscal year since 2005, sorted by statute under which the case was submitted,” the website “does not appear to detail how long OSHA takes to investigate before completing these cases.”
This letter was sent on the heels of Senator Grassley’s recent announcement on the 25th Anniversary of the Whistleblower Protection Act that he would be seeking to form a new whistleblower caucus among colleagues in the Senate. That pronouncement coupled with the Senators’ OSHA inquiry demonstrate that Congress is taking vigilant efforts to ensure whistleblower protections are being effectively enforced.