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Notice

Regulations Containing Procedures for Handling of Retaliation Complaints; Extension of the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Approval of Information Collection (Paperwork) Requirements

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Labor.

ACTION:

Request for public comments.

SUMMARY:

OSHA solicits comments concerning its proposal to extend OMB approval of the information collection requirements for handling of retaliation complaints filed under various whistleblower protection statutes contained in regulations at: 29 CFR part 24, Procedures for the Handling of Retaliation Complaints under Federal Employee Protection Statutes; 29 CFR part 1977, Discrimination Against Employees Exercising Rights under the Williams-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act; 29 CFR part 1978, Procedures for the Handling of Retaliation Complaints under the Employee Protection Provision of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982; 29 CFR part 1979, Procedures for Handling Discrimination Complaints Under Section 519 of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century; 29 CFR part 1980, Procedures for Handling of Discrimination Complaints Under Section 806 of the Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability Act of 2002, Title VIII of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act 2002; 29 CFR part 1981, Procedures for the Handling of Discrimination Complaints under Section 6 of the Pipeline Safety and Improvement Act of 2002; 29 CFR part 1982, Procedures for the Handling of Retaliation Complaints Under the National Transit Systems Security Act of 2007, Enacted as Section 1413 of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, and the Start Printed Page 66392Federal Railroad Safety Act, as Amended by Section 1521 of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007; and 29 CFR part 1983, Procedures for the Handling of Retaliation Complaints Under Section 219 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. These regulations set forth procedures employees must use to file a complaint with OSHA alleging that their employer violated a whistleblower protection provision contained in certain statutes that prohibit retaliatory action by employers against employees who engage in activities protected by the statutes.

DATES:

Comments must be submitted (postmarked, sent, or received) by December 27, 2010.

ADDRESSES:

Electronically: You may submit comments and attachments electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, which is the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Follow the instructions online for submitting comments.

Facsimile: If your comments, including attachments, are not longer than 10 pages, you may fax them to the OSHA Docket Office at (202) 693-1648.

Mail, hand delivery, express mail, and messenger or courier service: You must submit your comments and attachments to the OSHA Docket Office, OSHA Docket No. OSHA-2010-0049, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Room N-2625, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210. Deliveries (hand, express mail, and messenger or courier service) are accepted during the Department of Labor's and Docket Office's normal business hours, 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., e.t.

Instructions: All submissions must include the Agency name and OSHA docket number for the Information Collection Request (ICR) (OSHA-2010-0049). All comments, including any personal information you provide, are placed in the public docket without change, and will be made available online at http://www.regulations.gov. For further information on submitting comments see the “Public Participation” heading in the section of this notice titled SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

Docket: To read or download comments or other material in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov or the OSHA Docket Office at the address above. All documents in the docket (including this Federal Register notice) are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov index; however, some information (e.g., copyrighted material) is not publicly available to read or download through the Web site. All submissions, including copyrighted material, are available for inspection and copying at the OSHA Docket Office. You may obtain a copy of the ICR by contacting Theda Kenney or Todd Owen, Directorate of Standards and Guidance, OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-3609, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210; telephone: (202) 693-2222.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Nilgun Tolek, Office of the Whistleblower Protection Program, Directorate of Enforcement Programs, OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-3610, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210; telephone: (202) 693-2199.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

The Department of Labor, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent (e.g., an employee filing a retaliation complaint) burden, conducts a preclearance consultation program to provide the public with an opportunity to comment on proposed and continuing information collection requirements in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)). This program ensures that information is in the desired format, reporting burden (time and costs) is minimal, collection instruments are clearly understood, and OSHA's estimate of the information collection burden is accurate.

The Agency is responsible for investigating alleged violations of “whistleblower” provisions contained in a number of statutes. These whistleblower provisions prohibit retaliation by employers against employees who report alleged violations of certain laws or regulations. Accordingly, these provisions prohibit an employer from discharging or taking any other retaliatory action against an employee because the employee engages in any of the protected activities specified by the whistleblower provisions of the statutes.

These statutes are covered under the following regulations: 29 CFR part 24, Procedures for the Handling of Retaliation Complaints under Federal Employee Protection Statutes (29 CFR part 24 covers: Safe Water Drinking Act, 42 U.S.C. 300j-9(i); Federal Water Pollution Control Act, 33 U.S.C. 1367; Toxic Substances Control Act, 15 U.S.C. 2622; Solid Waste Disposal Act, 42 U.S.C. 6971; Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7622; Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, 42 U.S.C. 5851; and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. 9610); 29 CFR part 1977, Discrimination Against Employees Exercising Rights under the Williams-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act (29 CFR part 1977 covers: the Occupational Safety and Health Act, 29 U.S.C. 660; the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, 15 U.S.C. 2651; and the International Safe Container Act, 46 U.S.C. 80507); 29 CFR part 1978, Procedures for the Handling of Retaliation Complaints under the Employee Protection Provision of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982; 29 CFR part 1979, Procedures for Handling Discrimination Complaints Under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century; 29 CFR part 1980, Procedures for 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; 29 CFR part 1981, Procedures for the Handling of Discrimination Complaints under Section 6 of the Pipeline Safety and Improvement Act of 2002; 29 CFR part 1982, Procedures for the Handling of Retaliation Complaints Under the National Transit Systems Security Act of 2007, Enacted as Section 1413 of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, and the Federal Railroad Safety Act, as Amended by Section 1521 of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007; and 29 CFR part 1983, Procedures for the Handling of Retaliation Complaints Under Section 219 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. Information collection requirements contained in future regulations promulgated by the Agency with respect to a whistleblower provision of any other Federal law, except those that are assigned to another DOL agency, will be added to this information collection.

These regulations specify the procedures that an employee must use to file a complaint with OSHA alleging that their employer violated a whistleblower provision for which the Agency has investigative responsibility. Any employee who believes that such a violation occurred may file a complaint, or have the complaint filed on their behalf. Four of these regulations, 29 CFR parts 24, 1979, 1980 and 1981, require that complaints must be filed in writing, and should include a full statement of the acts and omissions, with pertinent dates, that are believed to constitute the violation. The other regulations, 29 CFR Start Printed Page 66393parts 1977, 1978, 1982, and 1983, require no particular form of filing for complaints.

II. Special Issues for Comment

OSHA has a particular interest in comments on the following issues:

  • Whether the proposed information collection requirements are necessary for the proper performance of the Agency's functions, including whether the information is useful;
  • The accuracy of OSHA's estimate of the burden (time and costs) of the information collection requirements, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
  • The quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; and
  • Ways to minimize the burden on individuals who must comply; for example, by using automated or other technological information collection and transmission techniques.

III. Proposed Actions

OSHA is requesting that OMB extend its approval of the information collection requirements contained in the regulations containing procedures for handling retaliation complaints at 29 CFR parts 24, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1983.[1] OSHA is proposing to increase the burden hours in the currently approved information collection request from 390 burden hours to 2,160 burden hours (a total increase of 1,770 hours). These information collection requirements are included in this extension. This increase is due to the Agency's determination that all of the Agency's regulations containing procedures for the investigation of retaliation complaints, regardless of the form used to file a complaint, contain information collection requirements associated with the initiation of the complaint. The increase is also due to updated information showing an increase in the annual number of complaints filed. The Agency will summarize the comments submitted in response to this notice, and will include this summary in the request to OMB.

Type of Review: Extension of a currently approved collection.

Title: Regulations Containing Procedures for Handling Retaliation Complaints.

OMB Number: 1218-0236.

Affected Public: Individuals.

Number of Respondents: 2,160.

Frequency of Recordkeeping: Once per complaint.

Average Time per Response: 1 hour.

Total Annual Hours Requested: 2,160.

Estimated Cost (Operation and Maintenance): $0.

IV. Public Participation—Submission of Comments on This Notice and Internet Access to Comments and Submissions

You may submit comments in response to this document as follows: (1) Electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, which is the Federal eRulemaking Portal; (2) by facsimile (fax); or (3) by hard copy. All comments, attachments, and other material must identify the Agency name and the OSHA docket number for the ICR (Docket No. OSHA-2010-0049). You may supplement electronic submissions by uploading document files electronically. If you wish to mail additional materials in reference to an electronic or facsimile submission, you must submit them to the OSHA Docket Office (see the section of this notice titled ADDRESSES). The additional materials must clearly identify your electronic comments by your name, date, and the docket number so the Agency can attach them to your comments.

Because of security procedures, the use of regular mail may cause a significant delay in the receipt of comments. For information about security procedures concerning the delivery of materials by hand, express delivery, and messenger or courier service, please contact the OSHA Docket Office at (202) 693-2350, (TTY (877) 889-5627).

Comments and submissions are posted without change at http://www.regulations.gov. Therefore, OSHA cautions commenters about submitting personal information such as social security numbers and date of birth. Although all submissions are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov index, some information (e.g., copyrighted material) is not publicly available to read or download through this Web site. All submissions, including copyrighted material, are available for inspection and copying at the OSHA Docket Office. Information on using the http://www.regulations.gov Web site to submit comments and access the docket is available at the Web site's “User Tips” link. Contact the OSHA Docket Office for information about materials not available through the Web site, and for assistance in using the Internet to locate docket submissions.

V. Authority and Signature

David Michaels, PhD, MPH, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, directed the preparation of this notice. The authority for this notice is the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3506 et seq.) and Secretary of Labor's Order No. 4-2010 (75 FR 55355).

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Signed at Washington, DC, on October 25, 2010.

David Michaels,

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.

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Footnotes

1.  Several of these regulations use the term “discrimination” or “discrimination complaints” in their titles. These terms are synonymous with “retaliation” and “retaliation complaints,” respectively.

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[FR Doc. 2010-27264 Filed 10-27-10; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4510-26-P