In an effort to toughen whistleblower protections, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently updated its whistleblower investigation manual and has budgeted $6.1 million to hire dozens of new investigators in 2012. At the same time, OSHA has published final rules for whistleblower regulations in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

These changes will come at a cost to employers, said Denise Keyser, a labor and employment partner in Ballard Spahr’s New Jersey office. “OSHA has shown a decided pro-employee bent” under the Obama administration, Ms. Keyser said. “The manual and new rules make it easier for these investigators to conduct investigations and easier to rule against employers. Be aware. OSHA’s being more active. You’ll see a more energized OSHA. They’ll be more likely to give higher penalties. They are vigorously pursuing workers’ claims.”