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OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.
January 18, 1985
Honorable Charles E. Bennett
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Congressman Bennett:
This is in response to your letter of November 24, on behalf of your constituent, Mr. J.T. Adams. Mr. Adams was concerned about reprisals after filing safety complaints with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). He was also concerned about alleged unsafe working conditions at the U.S. Postal Service in Jacksonville, Florida.
OSHA does not release names of Federal employees who file safety and health complaints to their respective agencies unless it is authorized to do so in writing by the complainant. Complaints are forwarded to the appropriate OSHA Regional Office for corrective action with the confidentiality of the complainant maintained. In addition, any corrective action taken by OSHA field personnel is conducted in a manner so as to protect the identity of the complainant.
Moreover, 29 CFR 1960, Subpart G of the regulations governing Federal safety and health, specifically state that "The head of each agency shall establish procedures to assure that no employee is subject to restraint, interference, coercion, discrimination or reprisal for filing a report of an unsafe or unhealthful working condition. . . ." Thus, not only does OSHA take measures to protect the identity of the complainant, but it is also the responsibility of the agency head to assure no Federal employee is subject to reprisal for reporting an unsafe working condition.
In the private sector, OSHA has authority under Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act to investigate and take appropriate action on an employee reprisal if it resulted from filing a safety or health complaint. OSHA has no similar authority to investigate and/or take action on reprisals in the Federal sector.
Concerning the alleged unsafe conditions reported by Mr. Adams, we have asked our Atlanta Regional office to take appropriate action and to advise you of all developments.
If you wish additional information please contact:
Mr. Alan McMillan, Regional Administrator
U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA
1375 Peachtree Street, N.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30367
Telephone: (404) 881-3573
The Office of Federal Agency Programs is the OSHA unit that deals with safety and health matters for Federal employees. Should you need to contact us again, please refer to Federal Employee Report Number N04-025-1417.
John B. Miles, Jr.
Directorate of Field Operations