Truck drivers included in OSHA's food safety whistleblower protections

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer | Friday, February 14, 2014

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued its interim final rule regarding whistleblower protections for those in the food safety chain, including truck drivers, who face retaliation by their employers for reporting potential food safety risks.

According to the Federal Register notice, which was published on Thursday, Feb. 13, OSHA’s interim final rule outlines its procedures and time frames for handling retaliation complaints as part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act.

Under the new OSHA whistleblower provisions, employees claiming they suffered an adverse action or were fired for reporting suspected food safety hazards would have 180 days from the time of the alleged retaliation to file their complaint with the U.S. Secretary of Labor.

The Food Safety Modernization Act, which was signed into law in January 2011, gives the FDA mandatory recall authority when a food-borne outbreak in the food supply chain is suspected, something the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has long supported.

Protected employees “engaged in the manufacture, processing, packing, transporting, distributing, reception, holding or importation of food” are protected from retaliation if they report or testify about food safety violations.

The Federal Register is accepting comments on the interim rule until April 14.

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