As part of its enhanced whistleblower focus, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is conducting a four-month pilot program in two regions, with a focus on nipping disputes in the bud via negotiation, mediation or arbitration.

The alternative dispute resolution (ADR) pilot applies to complaints filed through OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program. The program has been under way since early October, with the goal of assisting complainants and employers in resolving their safety disputes in a cooperative, voluntary manner.

ADR Methods
The ADR program is being piloted through OSHA’s regional offices in Chicago (encompassing Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio) and San Francisco (covering California, Arizona, Nevada and various Pacific Island areas including Guam). Possible new voluntary ADR methods include:

  • Early resolution: If successful, early resolution resolves a dispute before an OSHA investigation is launched. An ADR coordinator works with the involved parties to reach a settlement agreement before a response to a complaint is provided.
  • Mediation: In these cases, a third party – either a federal Mediation and Conciliations representative or an attorney – becomes involved. This mediator helps parties reach an agreement by clarifying their differences and/or negotiating terms.

When a whistleblower complaint is filed in one of the pilot regions, the involved parties will be notified of their options, and may work through an OSHA regional ADR coordinator to use them.

Upon completion, the pilot program will be evaluated and possibly expanded to other – or all – OSHA regions.

About OSHA’s Whistleblower Program
The OHSA Whistleblower Protection Program assists employees who report violations of workplace safety laws, providing support resources and preventing retaliation. Since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and establishment of OSHA in 1970, whistleblower authority has been extended to protect workers from discrimination under 21 federal laws.

To learn more about developments and best practices in safety and other key HR issues, contact the expert workplace team at Premium Staffing today.

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