[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 230 (Friday, November 29, 2019)]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-25832]
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
[Docket No. OSHA-2012-0026]
Regulations Containing Procedures for Handling of Retaliation
Complaints; Revision of Approved Information Collection (Paperwork)
Requirements for Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Approval
AGENCY: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Labor.
ACTION: Request for public comments.
SUMMARY: OSHA solicits public comments concerning the proposal to
extend and revise the collection of information currently approved by
the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for handling of retaliation
complaints filed with OSHA under various whistleblower protection
statutes and the procedural regulations described in this notice. These
regulations contain procedures employees must use to file a complaint
with OSHA alleging that their employer violated a whistleblower
protection provision contained in certain statutes that generally
prohibit retaliatory action by employers against employees who engage
in activities protected by the statutes. This collection of information
includes revisions to the electronic form for employees to submit
retaliation complaints to OSHA.
DATES: Comments must be submitted (postmarked, sent, or received) by
January 28, 2020.
Electronically: You may submit comments and attachments
electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, which is the Federal
eRulemaking Portal. Follow the instructions online for submitting
Facsimile: If your comments, including attachments, are not longer
than 10 pages, you may fax them to the OSHA Docket Office at (202) 693-
Mail, hand delivery, express mail, messenger or courier service:
When using this method, you must submit your comments and attachments
to the OSHA Docket Office, OSHA Docket No. OSHA-2012-0026, U.S.
Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration,
Room N-3653, 200 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20210. Due to
security procedures, there may be delays in receiving materials that
are sent by regular mail. For more information about security
procedures concerning the delivery of materials by express delivery,
hand delivery, and messenger or courier service, please contact the
OSHA Docket Office. The hours of operation for the OSHA Docket Office
are 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., ET.
Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name and OSHA
docket number (OSHA-2012-0026) for the Information Collection Request
(ICR). All comments, including any personal information you provide,
such as social security numbers and dates of birth, are placed in the
public docket without change and may be made available online at http://www.regulations.gov. For further information on submitting comments
see the ``Public Participation'' heading in the section of this notice
titled SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.
Docket: To read or download comments or other material in the
docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov or the OSHA Docket Office at
the above address. All documents in the docket (including this Federal
Register notice) are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov index;
however, some information (e.g., copyrighted material) is not publicly
available to read or download from the website. All submissions,
including copyrighted material, are available for inspection and
copying at the OSHA Docket Office. You may also contact the Directorate
of Whistleblower Protection Programs at the below phone number to
obtain a copy of the ICR.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Anthony Rosa, Acting Director,
Directorate of Whistleblower Protection Programs, OSHA, U.S. Department
of Labor; telephone: (202) 693-2199.
The Department of Labor, as part of a continuing effort to reduce
paperwork and respondent (e.g., an employee filing a retaliation
complaint) burden, conducts a preclearance consultation program to
provide the public with an opportunity to comment on proposed and
continuing collection of information in accordance with the Paperwork
Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)). This program ensures
that information is in the desired format, reporting burden (time and
costs) is minimal, collection instruments are clearly understood, and
OSHA's estimate of the information collection burden is accurate.
The agency is responsible for investigating alleged violations of
whistleblower provisions contained in a number of statutes. These
whistleblower provisions generally prohibit retaliation by employers
against employees who report alleged violations of certain laws or
regulations. Accordingly, these provisions prohibit an employer from
discharging or taking any other retaliatory action against an employee
because the employee engages in any of the protected activities
specified by the whistleblower provisions of the statutes. These
statutes are covered under the following regulations: 29 CFR part 24,
Procedures for the Handling of Retaliation Complaints under the
Employee Protection Provisions of Six Environmental Statutes and
Section 211 of the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, as Amended (29
CFR part 24 covers the: Safe Drinking Water Act, 42 U.S.C. 300j-9(i);
Federal Water Pollution Control Act, 33 U.S.C. 1367; Toxic Substances
Control Act, 15 U.S.C. 2622; Solid Waste Disposal Act, 42 U.S.C. 6971;
Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7622; Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, 42
U.S.C. 5851; and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and
Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. 9610); 29 CFR part 1977, Discrimination
Against Employees Exercising Rights under the Williams-Steiger
Occupational Safety and Health Act (29 CFR part 1977 covers the:
Occupational Safety and Health Act, 29 U.S.C. 660; Asbestos Hazard
Emergency Response Act, 15 U.S.C. 2651; and International Safe
Container Act, 46 U.S.C. 80507); 29 CFR part 1978, Procedures for the
Handling of Retaliation Complaints under the Employee Protection
Provision of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982; 29 CFR
part 1979, Procedures for Handling Discrimination Complaints Under the
Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st
Century; 29 CFR part 1980, Procedures for Handling of Discrimination
Complaints Under Section 806 of the Corporate and Criminal Fraud
Accountability Act of 2002 (Title VIII of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of
2002); 29 CFR part 1981, Procedures for the Handling of Discrimination
Complaints under Section 6 of the Pipeline Safety and Improvement Act
of 2002; 29 CFR part 1982, Procedures for the Handling of Retaliation
Complaints Under the National Transit Systems Security Act and the
Federal Railroad Safety Act; 29 CFR part 1983, Procedures for the
Handling of Retaliation Complaints Under Section 219 of the Consumer
Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008; 29 CFR part 1984, Procedures
for Handling of Retaliation Complaints Under Section 1558 of the
Affordable Care Act; 29 CFR part 1985, Procedures for Handling
Retaliation Complaints Under the Employee Protection Provision of the
Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010; 29 CFR part 1986, Procedures
for the Handling of Retaliation Complaints Under the Employee
Protection Provision of the Seaman's Protection Act (SPA), as Amended;
and 29 CFR part 1987, Procedures for Handling Retaliation Complaints
Under Section 402 of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, and 29 CFR
part 1988 Procedures for Handling Retaliation Complaints Under Section
31307 of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century.
In addition, OSHA investigates complaints of retaliation filed
under the recently-enacted whistleblower provision Section 7623 of the
Taxpayer First Act. Collection of information contained in future
regulations promulgated by the agency with respect to a whistleblower
provision of any other Federal law, except those that are assigned to
another DOL agency, will be added to this information collection.
OSHA's whistleblower regulations specify the procedures that an
employee must use to file a complaint alleging that their employer
violated a whistleblower provision for which the agency has
investigative responsibility. Any employee who believes that such a
violation occurred may file a complaint, or have the complaint filed on
their behalf. Two of these regulations, 29 CFR parts 1979 and 1981,
state that complaints must be filed in writing and should include a
full statement of the
acts and omissions, with pertinent dates, that the employee believes
constitute the violation. The other regulations, 29 CFR parts 24, 1977,
1978, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1986, 1987, and 1988 require no
particular form of filing for complaints. However, it is OSHA's policy
to accept complaints in any form (i.e., orally or in writing) under all
statutes. This policy helps ensure that employees of all circumstances
and education levels will have equal access to the complaint filing
The agency currently utilizes the OSHA Online Whistleblower
Complaint Form, which includes interactive features to aid employees
seeking to understand the process and requirements for filing a
retaliation complaint with OSHA. The web-based form enables employees
to submit whistleblower complaints directly to OSHA 24-hours a day. The
electronic form also provides information about employee protections
enforced by other agencies, in order to better direct complainants to
the proper investigative agencies.
OSHA proposes to revise this ICR to include revisions to the
electronic complaint form to make the following changes and technical
updates. On the landing page, before the electronic complaint form, the
user will have the opportunity to click a hyperlink which will direct
them to a map that identifies the OSHA regions and their respective
contact information. Once in the electronic form, ``pop-ups'' will
appear whenever the user attempts to click away from a required field
without making an entry. Lastly, the character count for two optional
text boxes will increase from 500 to 1,000 characters. This allows the
users to explain their case to OSHA. A mark-up of the proposed changes
to the form is available in the docket.
II. Special Issues for Comment
OSHA has a particular interest in comments on the following issues:
Whether the proposed collection of information is
necessary for the proper performance of the agency's functions,
including whether the information is useful;
The accuracy of OSHA's estimate of the burden (time and
costs) of the collection of information, including the validity of the
methodology and assumptions used;
The quality, utility, and clarity of the information
Ways to minimize the burden on individuals who must
comply; for example, by using automated or other technological
information collection and transmission techniques.
III. Proposed Actions
OSHA is requesting that OMB approve the proposed extension and
revision of the collection of information contained in OSHA's statutory
authorities and the regulations containing procedures for handling
retaliation complaints at 29 CFR parts 24, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981,
1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1988.\1\ Specifically, this
revision contains a revised information collection instrument, a form,
which employees may use to file complaints. In addition, OSHA is
requesting an adjustment increase in burden hours from 7,566 burden
hours to 10,126 burden hours (a total increase of 2,560 hours). The
updated data shows an increase in the annual number of complaints
filed. The agency will summarize the comments submitted in response to
this notice, and will include this summary in the request to OMB.
\1\ Several of these regulations use the term ``discrimination''
or ``discrimination complaints'' titles. These terms are synonymous
with ``retaliation'' and ``retaliation complaints,'' respectively.
Type of Review: Revision of a currently approved collection.
Title: Regulations Containing Procedures for Handling Retaliation
OMB Number: 1218-0236.
Affected Public: Individuals.
Number of Respondents: 10,126.
Frequency of Response: Once per complaint.
Average Time per Response: 1 hour.
Estimated Total Burden Hours: 10,126.
Estimated Cost (Operation and Maintenance): $0.
IV. Public Participation--Submission of Comments on This Notice and
Internet Access to Comments and Submissions
You may submit comments in response to this document as follows:
(1) Electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, which is the Federal
eRulemaking Portal; (2) by facsimile (fax); or (3) by hard copy. All
comments, attachments, and other material must identify the agency name
and the OSHA docket number for the ICR (Docket No. OSHA-2012-0026). You
may supplement electronic submissions by uploading document files
electronically. If you wish to mail additional materials in reference
to an electronic or facsimile submission, you must submit them to the
OSHA Docket Office (see the section of this notice titled ADDRESSES).
The additional materials must clearly identify your electronic comments
by your name, date, and the docket number so the agency can attach them
to your comments.
Because of security procedures, the use of regular mail may cause a
significant delay in the receipt of comments. For information about
security procedures concerning the delivery of materials by hand,
express delivery, messenger or courier service, please contact the OSHA
Docket Office at (202) 693-2350, (TTY (877) 889-5627). Comments and
submissions are posted without change at http://www.regulations.gov.
Therefore, OSHA cautions commenters about submitting personal
information such as social security numbers and dates of birth.
Although all submissions are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov
index, some information (e.g., copyrighted material) is not publicly
available to read or download through this website. All submissions,
including copyrighted material, are available for inspection and
copying at the OSHA Docket Office. Information on using the http://www.regulations.gov website to submit comments and access the docket is
available at the website's ``User Tips'' link. Contact the OSHA Docket
Office for information about materials not available through the
website, and for assistance in using the internet to locate docket
V. Authority and Signature
Loren Sweatt, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for
Occupational Safety and Health, directed the preparation of this
notice. The authority for this notice is the Paperwork Reduction Act of
1995 (44 U.S.C. 3506 et seq.) and Secretary of Labor's Order No. 1-2012
(77 FR 3912).
Signed at Washington, DC, on November 22, 2019.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety
[FR Doc. 2019-25832 Filed 11-27-19; 8:45 am]
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