The U.S. Government Accountability Office on September 16 issued a report titled, "Whistleblower Protection: Sustained Management Attention Needed to Address Long-standing Program Weaknesses." In response, Occupational Safety and Health Administration Assistant Secretary of Labor Dr. David Michaels issued the following statement:

"OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program exists because of a decades-old belief held by Congress, stakeholders, employers and society, that whistleblowers play an essential role in protecting workers and the public. Whistleblowers can make the difference between lawful workplaces and places where workers fear for their livelihoods and even their lives if they raise concerns. The leadership of the Department of Labor profoundly understands the cornerstone position that whistleblower protections have in the foundation of a strong worker protection program.

"With our available resources, OSHA is working hard to ensure that whistleblowers are protected from retaliation. We are in the process of a top-to-bottom review of OSHA's whistleblower protection program. This comprehensive review will cover policy, resources, equipment and work processes. The objective is to identify any weaknesses and inefficiencies in the program and improve the way we conduct this very important activity. In addition, we have hired additional personnel in the past year in an effort to more efficiently process cases.

"OSHA has already begun taking action on items recommended in the GAO report, such as requiring all investigators and their supervisors to complete mandatory investigator training over the next 18 months, setting strategic goals and performance measures for the whistleblower program, and providing new equipment to field staff. We are still studying other recommendations from the GAO, and appreciate their review and input."

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of 19 laws protecting employees who report violations of various securities, trucking, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, railroad, public transportation, workplace safety and health, consumer product safety, health care reform, and financial reform laws. Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available online at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.