The International Dairy Deli Bakery Association has notified its members that OSHA is now enforcing new whistleblower protections under a provision of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). OSHA published the final rule earlier this year. FSMA provides employees who report a possible violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act with protection against retaliation from businesses engaged in the manufacture, processing, packing, transporting, distribution, reception, holding or importation of food.

Under the new rule, employees alleging employer retaliation need only a “reasonable belief” that the complained-of conduct violates food safety laws.

“The minimal standard for everyday complaints to become ‘protected activity’ increases the exposure of employers to OSHA investigations and lawsuits,” the association concludes.

The association advises employers to draw up formal procedures to review employee complaints, train management on how to appropriately handle complaints and maintain good record-keeping.