AMERICAN SOCIETY OF SAFETY ENGINEERS
1800 East Oakton Street
Des Plaines, Illinois 60018-2187
July 28, 2003
The Honorable John Henshaw
Assistant Secretary of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
OSHA Docket Office
Docket No. C-09
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20210
By Mail and E-Mail: www.ecomments.osha.gov
RE: Comments on Interim Final Rule Concerning Procedures for Handling Discrimination Complaints under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002
Dear Assistant Secretary Henshaw:
The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) takes this opportunity to provide general comments of support for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) efforts to provide what appear to be a reasonable set of procedures and time frames to fulfill the agency's responsibilities for handling whistleblower discrimination complaints against companies under the corporate accountability provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (Public Law No. 107-204). These procedures are detailed in the Interim Final Rule "Procedures for the 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" (68 Federal Register 31859).
It is most important that these procedures give confidence to those individuals who risk their livelihoods by bringing attention to corporate failures in meeting responsibilities to shareholders, including risking financial losses due to the mismanagement of occupational safety, health and environmental concerns. ASSE firmly supports federal efforts that are effective in guaranteeing whistleblowers against retaliation and discrimination. Sometimes, such individuals are the only way some recalcitrant employers can be made to meet their responsibilities to their shareholders and workers.
Often, however, the effectiveness of administrative procedures cannot be understood until they are used. While the procedures described in this Interim Rule appear adequate in giving protections both to employees and to the corporations they accuse, ASSE hopes that OSHA will monitor their effect in encouraging corporations to be more accountable, as Congress intended, and be flexible and willing to make changes to them if they prove inadequate in any way.
As the largest and longest existing safety, health and environmental professional association, ASSE and its 30,000 members are ready and willing to help OSHA see to it that these procedures are effective, especially in encouraging greater responsibility for workplace safety and health.
James "Skipper" Kendrick, CSP