How Well Does OSHA Protect Workers From Reprisal:

Inspector Opinions

T-HRD-90-8: Published: Nov 16, 1989. Publicly Released: Nov 16, 1989.

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GAO discussed how effectively the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Act protected workers from reprisal when they exercised their rights to protect themselves from health and safety workplace hazards. GAO found that: (1) the regulations provided employees with a number of workplace rights, including the right to be informed about the law, workplace hazards, OSHA standards and actions in response to worker complaints, the right to report violations, and the right to refuse to work because of health hazards; (2) most of the OSHA inspectors surveyed believed that fewer than half of all workers knew about their rights under the act; (3) the inspectors believed that lack of protection from employer reprisal limited workers' freedom to exercise their rights to report or discuss violations; (4) the inspectors stated that such legislative factors as a limited filing period, court rather than administrative law judge hearings, lack of interim remedies, and statutory ambiguities reduced worker protection under the law; and (5) the inspectors cited such factors as case processing time, adequacy of the investigations, and difficulty in proving employer discriminatory actions against workers exercising their rights as limiting workers' protection against reprisal.

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