House Approves Legislation to Give Whistleblower Protections to Offshore Workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On a strong bipartisan vote of 315 to 93, the House today approved legislation to extend modern whistleblower protections to workers whose employers are engaged in oil and gas exploration, drilling, production, or cleanup on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Currently, individuals working on the OCS have no protection against retaliation by an employer for speaking up on hazardous conditions.  “A whistleblower may be the only thing standing between a safe workplace and a catastrophe,” said U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. “No worker should ever have to choose between his or her life and livelihood. Imagine a worker going to work and saying ‘get my affairs in order and let’s check my will.’ That’s what people do when they go to war and they shouldn’t have to do it when they go to work.”

The Offshore Oil and Gas Worker Whistleblower Protection Act (H.R. 5851), authored by Miller and Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), recognizes that while many workers on the Deepwater Horizon rig had serious safety concerns prior to the explosion, workers were reluctant to come forward with those concerns because they feared that they would lose their jobs.

Congressional hearings and new reports have uncovered that workers on BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig had safety concerns prior to the tragedy, but feared that they would lose their jobs if they raised those concerns with management.

The provisions mirror other recently enacted whistleblower laws contained in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and the Federal Railroad Safety Act.

Watch Chairman Miller’s speech on the Republican motion to recommit