From the Executive Director’s Office: Fostering a Safe Workplace Free from Retaliation

Don ElswickThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration remains committed to protecting the rights of workers who raise safety and health concerns. Protecting workers means not only complying with regulations. Workers also have a legal right to raise safety and health concerns on the job without fear of retaliation. Workplace policies allowing workers to report unsafe, potentially dangerous and costly problems are a key element of a safety and health program. It is well-known that companies with effective safety and health programs actually find it helpful to encourage employees to report their concerns.

Unfortunately, not all establishments foster a cooperative environment where workers can express concerns about workplace practices. Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act protects employees who exercise their rights under the law. In the decades since the passage of the OSH Act, Congress has enacted several other statutes expanding whistleblower protection in other areas. These provisions protect employees from retaliation when they raise or report concerns regarding hazards or violations of various laws related to workplace safety and health, transportation, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, securities, and taxes.

It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee engaging in protected activities under these laws. Such activities may include requesting personal protective equipment, filing reports about possible violations of the law with the OSHA or other government agencies, raising concerns about workplace hazards or potential violations of the law to the employer, reporting a workplace injury or illness, or refusing to conduct tasks that would violate the law.

The agency has aggressively pursued whistleblower cases of retaliation and wrongful termination and has seen positive results. From Oct. 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020, federal OSHA received 2,835 whistleblower complaints, of which the agency has processed 99 percent, or 2,823 complaints. The agency has recorded 657 whistleblower complaints for investigation and closed 2,164 cases administratively.

To prevent workplace retaliation, OSHA issued Recommended Practices for Anti-Retaliation Programs to help employers create an environment in which workers feel comfortable voicing their concerns without fear of retaliation. The recommendations are intended to apply to all public and private sector employers covered by the more than 20 whistleblower protection laws that OSHA enforces. The recommendations are adaptable to most workplaces, and employers may adjust them for such variables as number of employees, makeup of the workforce, and type of work performed. These concepts can be used to create a new program or enhance an existing one.

The document outlines five key elements of an effective anti-retaliation program:

  1. Management leadership, commitment, and accountability,
  2. System for listening to and resolving employees’ safety and compliance concerns,
  3. System for receiving and responding to reports of retaliation,
  4. Anti-retaliation training for employees and managers, and
  5. Program oversight.

A proactive anti-retaliation program should respond appropriately to employees’ compliance concerns (i.e., concerns about hazards or potential employer violations of one of the more than 20 laws enforced by OSHA), and address retaliation against employees who raise or report concerns.

To obtain more information on OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program or the laws under its jurisdiction, visit or call (800) 321-6742 (OSHA).

ACGIH’s Fundamentals in Industrial Ventilation

Join us July 25-29, 2022 at the Bryant Conference Center on The University of Alabama Campus.  Registration is open!

ACGIH’s Fundamentals in Industrial Ventilation is a course that covers both basic and advanced topics related to industrial ventilation including:

The behavior of air and chemical contaminants in the air
Industrial process exhaust system design (including ACGIH calculation methods)
Make-up and supply air ventilation systems
Dilution ventilation systems
Selection and design of exhaust hoods, ducts, and fittings
Fans and air cleaners (including Fan Laws)
Troubleshooting and testing of existing systems
Hands-on testing and measurements

At the end of this course, participants will be able to:

Identify and select appropriate ventilation systems for process emission/exposure control
Measure and evaluate the performance of ventilation systems (flow, pressure, horsepower)
Design and evaluate dilution ventilation systems
Design/re-design local exhaust systems using state-of-the-art design procedures
Design, operate, and modify hoods appropriate to participants’ needs
Critically review ventilation system plans, drawings, and specifications of engineers and architects

Course Fee: $2,350.00

Schedule:  8:00 am – 4:00 pm Monday -Thursday and 8:00 am – 12:00 pm on Friday

A decision to hold the class will be made 30 days before the start date.

Sponsored by UA SafeState

Environmental Programs Courses

Introduction to Industrial Stormwater Management 

March 1, 2022
October 18, 2022

Enroll Here

Federal regulations require stormwater discharges associated with specific categories of industrial activity to be covered under National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. Successful completion of this 1-day course will provide foundational knowledge for staff to achieve compliance with NPDES permit conditions.

Many activities and processes at industrial facilities are exposed to the weather (material handling and storage, equipment maintenance, etc.) Stormwater runoff that encounters these activities can transport pollutants and contaminate nearby rivers, lakes, and wetlands.

Who Should Enroll? 

Employees who oversee or are directly responsible for the stormwater program at a facility; and/or new employees who need a thorough introduction to Industrial Stormwater Management and the regulatory tasks required to achieve compliance.

Course contents will include:

  • Stormwater 101 and applicability,
  • Development of a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP),
  • Review of best management practices (BMPs),
  • Sampling and monitoring strategies, and
  • Understanding permit conditions.


Spill Prevention, Controls, and Countermeasures

March 2, 2022
October 19, 2022

Enroll Here

This half-day course introduces the concepts and requirements of the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule (40 CFR Part 112).

Who Should Enroll? 

Employees required to take the SPCC annual training; and/or new employees who need a thorough introduction to the regulations for handling oil and related materials.

Through practical exercises and discussions, students enrolled in this course will be introduced to the SPCC Rule and understand how to control and respond to spills — ultimately working through the EPA Tier I Qualified Facility Template to develop the skills to implement and maintain a SPCC Plan.

Course material will focus on industrial, commercial, agricultural, and public facilities using or storing oil; and will cover topics including rule applicability, general rule requirements, prevention measures, secondary containment, inspection procedures, spill response, and notifications.

Introduction to ISO 14001 and the Internal Audit 

March 8-9, 2022
October 25-26, 2022

Enroll Here

ISO 14001 is a globally accepted standard that outlines the implementation of an effective environmental management system (EMS).

Who Should Enroll? 

This introductory course provides a thorough review of the ISO 14001 standard and a focus on the internal auditing process, and will benefit employees at all levels (entry level, mid-level management, and employees involved with environmental aspects of a company).

Environmental aspects and compliance discussions will include hazardous and solid wastes, water, air, chemicals, regulatory reporting, and more.

Making the Connection to EMS

Although geared toward ISO 14001 standards, developing a functional EMS is a key component in meeting environmental compliance obligations, and crucial when seeking a competitive advantage and gaining the trust of stakeholders.

*It is not a pre-requisite that your company be ISO 14001 certified to benefit from this course.

UA SafeState Announces New Safety and Health Certificate Recipients

Several dedicated safety and health professionals received Construction or General Industry Safety and Health Management Program Certificates this past quarter from UA SafeState’s OSHA Training Institute Education Center (OTI-EC).

In order to earn their certificates, recipients were required to complete nearly 100 hours of classroom training in at least six courses and demonstrate their expertise by examination. We commend them for this accomplishment and applaud their efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of co-workers on the job.

Melinda Ladnier Maritime Industry






Melinda Ladnier

Maritime Industry Certificate

Patrick Scott Walker

Patrick Scott Walker

Construction Industry Certificate

Keith Cambell

Keith Campbell

Construction Industry Certificate

Bennett Hinyub

General Industry Certificate

David Gatlin

Construction & General Certificate

Justin Walker General Industry

Justin Walker

General Industry Certificate

Brian Humphries General Industry

Brian Humphres

General Industry Certificate

Jason Williamson Construction

Jason Williamson

Construction Certificate

JoAnn Green

JoAnn Green

General Industry Certificate

Steven Blanton

Steven Blanton

General Industry Certificate

william dickinson general industry

William Dickinson

General Industry Certificate

Nsiande Mfala General Industry

Nsiande Mfala

General Industry Certificate

Scoctt Cosner General Industry

Scott Cosner

General Industry Certificate

Stacy Alan Stough General Industry

Stacy Alan Stough

General Industry Certificate

If you would like more information on the Construction Safety and Health Management Certificate program or General Industry Safety and Health Management Certificate program, please go to OTI-EC Certificate Programs or call (205) 348-4585.

News from UA OSHA Training Institute Education Center

What a great year we had at the University of Alabama OSHA Training Institute Education Center! Our trainers conducted OSHA 10 and 30 hour classes for over 10,000 students having an impact on safety in the fields of Construction, General Industry and Maritime in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and other states throughout the country. So proud of our trainers and their passion to keep their employees safe on the job! Join us in 2022 and be a part of our ongoing initiative to keep safety on the forefront in our companies and communities. Let’s get everyone home in the same condition they left before heading to work.

Visit our website for our 2022 training schedule and information on the classes conducted through the UA OSHA Training Institute Education Center.

Update on EPA lower dust-lead hazard standards

A new final rule announced by EPA will revise the federal limits for lead in dust on floors and windowsills. The rule will lower the agency’s dust-lead hazard standards (DLHS) from 40 µg/ft² to 10 µg/ft²on floors and from 250 µg/ft² to 100 µg/ft² on windowsills.

The rule went into effect on January 6, 2020.

The current limits on lead in dust on floors and windowsills have been in place since 2001. At that time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified a blood-lead level in children of 10 µg/dL as a level of concern. CDCs current guidance states that no safe blood-lead level in children has been identified and calls for public health measures to be initiated at a blood-lead level in children of 5 µg/dL. EPA cited this change in CDCs guidance as a factor in its decision to issue tighter standards.

While the final rule lowers EPAs dust-lead hazard standards, it does not change the agency’s clearance standards used to determine whether renovated homes are safe for re-occupancy. The clearance standards will remain 40 µg/ft² for floors, 250 µg/ft² for windowsills, and 400 µg/ft² for window troughs.

For more information see the Federal Register Vol. 84, No. 131, Tuesday, July 9, 2019, Rules and Regulations or visit EPAs website at

Environmental Classes Calendar for 2022

The Calendar for our Environmental Classes for the first quarter of 2022 has been released. You can view the calendar here:

If you would like for us to email you a pdf showing these course offerings with dates and fees please email Gregg Cubel at

If you have any questions about which class you may want to take you can email Gregg Cubel at or you can call us toll-free at (877) 50-TRAIN.

Welcome our new employees

Krystal Guin joined UA SafeState’s OSHA Training Institute Education Center as an Office Associate II, May 17, 2021.  She is from Moundville, AL.  She has a sixteen-year-old daughter who is a senior at Hale County High School.  She has an associate degree in Applied Sciences and hopes to earn her bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama.

And saying goodbye to dear friends

Beth retirementBeth Widner retired October 2019 with 29 years of service for the Environmental Program. She was hired by John Sikes as a program assistant in 1990. Beth was a dedicated employee and worked very hard to make sure everything ran smoothly in her division. She and her husband, Denton look forward to a life together on their farm. We will truly miss Beth! But we wish her the best in her retirement!



Dr. William WeemsDr. William “Bill” Weems, CIH, CSP passed away on Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019. Dr. Weems incredible contributions and accomplishments as an OSH professional were legendary. At The University of Alabama, as Director Emeritus, UA SafeState, he was our leader and inspiration. We will truly miss your passion and dedication to the safety of all workers not only in Alabama but the world!