Safety and Health

Whistleblower protections

You have the responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace.

A whistleblower is someone who reports workplace conditions that they believe to be unsafe or illegal. You can’t retaliate against a whistleblower for reporting injuries, safety concerns, or other protected activities. Retaliation, or “adverse action,” can include, but is not limited to, firing, blacklisting, denying benefits to, or making threats against a worker. Your employees have the right to:

  • file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
  • participate in an inspection or talk to an inspector
  • seek access to exposure and injury records
  • report a work-related injury
  • request an inspection from OSHA, and speak to the inspector
  • raise a safety or health complaint with you


OSHA has issued Recommended Practices for Anti-Retaliation Programs to help you create a workplace in which employees feel comfortable voicing their concerns without fear of retaliation. The recommendations are adaptable to most workplaces, and the concepts can be used to create a new program or enhance an existing one.


Employees have a right to be protected from retaliation regardless of immigration status. This includes retaliation based on immigration status, such as threats to call immigration authorities.  


The National Labor Relations Act also protects employees’ right to engage in “concerted activity” – which involves employees coming together to improve their workplace, including safety and health on the job. An example may involve two or more employees discussing work-related issues in addition to pay, such as safety concerns, with each other, or an employee speaking to an employer on behalf of one or more co-workers about workplace safety.  

We’re here to help.

We are committed to helping you understand your responsibilities as an employer. You may wish to visit OSHA’s Employers Website and OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program website to learn more.

For additional assistance, please contact:

OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742)

OSHA’s area offices provide advice, education, and assistance to businesses and organizations who request help with occupational safety and health issues. In addition, OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program offers no-cost and confidential safety and occupational health advice. No citations or penalties are issued; the employer’s only obligation is to correct identified hazards.


Please note that the mining industry has its own set of safety and health standards, rules, and regulations, which are overseen by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Mining industry employers should contact MSHA at 202-693-9400 or

Serious meeting between two male employees.
Need more information?

The elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors are a set of online tools developed by the U.S. Department of Labor to help employees and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under federal employment laws.