OSHA Publishes Whistleblower Procedures under the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act

OSHA has published an interim final rule establishing procedures for the handling of whistleblower complaints under the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002. OSHA is seeking comments from interested members of the public.

The Pipeline Safety Improvement Act was signed into law on Dec. 17, 2002, and applies to pipeline facilities that transport natural gas or hazardous liquids in interstate commerce. The act prohibits pipeline operators from firing or taking adverse action against workers who provide information regarding pipeline safety to either the employer or the government.

"The Pipeline Safety Improvement Act significantly strengthens the enforcement of pipeline safety laws," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw, "and whistleblower protection is an important aspect of it. We want to assure workers are adequately protected if they speak out against possible pipeline safety violations."

The rule establishes procedures for the expeditious handling of discrimination complaints made by employees, or by persons acting on their behalf. Included in the interim final rule are procedures for submitting complaints under the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act, investigations and issuance of findings and preliminary orders. The interim rule also details litigation procedures and how one can object to the findings and request a hearing. The final section of the rule discusses miscellaneous provisions including withdrawals of complaints and settlements, plus judicial review and judicial enforcement.

Anyone wishing to comment on the interim final rule should submit written comments no later than June 4 to: OSHA Docket Office, Docket C-11, Room N2625, OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20210. Comments may also be submitted via fax by calling (202) 693-1648, or electronically to http://ecomments.osha.gov.

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