Is Your Maryland Workplace Unsafe? OSHA Announces Plans to Improve Whistleblower Protection Program

“Whistleblower.” The name itself conjures up images straight out of a Hollywood thriller. Many movies have been made over the years about the plight of whistleblowers — brave souls who try to expose corporate corruption, greed, and danger in the workplace — usually at their own peril. Memorable movies about whistleblowers include Silkwood (nuclear power plant dangers), The Insider (tobacco and smoking health risks), and Erin Brockovich (toxic waste dumping).

Some of these movies are based on the real-life stories of whistleblowers and the consequences they suffered from those who’d silence them. Whistleblowers are indeed real working people who speak out against their employers and bring problematic situations to light. Their grievances may center on workplace safety violations, illegal workplace practices, and poor working conditions.

As the experienced Baltimore, Maryland workers’ compensation lawyers at Butschky & Butschky, LLC know — it can be very tough to speak out against one’s employer. This is especially true in this struggling economy, where working people are happy to have any job at all. However standards for workplace safety in Maryland and around the country are required, not optional. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) wants to ensure that workers who have concerns about their workplace safety may raise those concerns without fear of reprisal from their employers. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act)…

…prohibits any person from discharging or in any manner retaliating against any employee because the employee has exercised rights under the OSH ACT. Rights afforded by the OSH Act include employee participation in safety and health activities, such as complaining to OSHA and seeking an OSHA inspection, participating in an OSHA inspection, participating or testifying in any proceeding related to an OSHA inspection, and reporting a work-related injury, illness, or fatality.

OSHA announced on August 1 that it is releasing a report that reviews the Whistleblower Protection Program, in an effort to strengthen it. OSHA enforces 21 whistleblower laws that protect employees “who report violations of various workplace safety, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws.”

Employer or co-worker retaliation against whistleblowers can take many forms, according to OSHA. These include reduced pay or hours, denial of benefits, demotion or lack of promotion, threats, intimidation, and blacklisting.

If you’ve been injured at your job in Maryland, including in a construction accident, it’s best to consult an experienced Md. workers comp attorney. Even if your employer seems like the nicest boss in Baltimore County, things can get complicated when a worker gets injured and needs compensation for lost wages and medical bills. An experienced Maryland work comp lawyer can handle the insurance claims and legal proceedings, if it comes to that, for you.

Seeking advice from an experienced Baltimore work-injury attorney isn’t necessarily blowing the whistle on your employer — but it is the wise thing to do if you’re hurt at work in Maryland.

Sources:

US Department of Labor’s OSHA announces measures to improve Whistleblower Protection Program
OSHA News Release Aug. 1, 2011
OSHA: Office of the Whistleblower Protection Program

Related Maryland Work Injury Lawyer article:

Maryland Work Injury Update: BLS Issues Revised Fatal Occupational Injuries Report — Work Related Deaths on the Decline June 8, 2010