Employee Involvement, Roles, and Responsibilities
EMPLOYEE INVOLVEMENT AND EMPOWERMENT
When employees become an integral part of the safety process,
meaningful and lasting changes occur. Employees develop a
sense of responsibility and pride in the success of the overall
program, increasing safety and health awareness which affects
not only themselves, but coworkers and workplace visitors
While it is ultimately management's responsibility to ensure
worker safety and health, employee involvement is the key
to making it work. Line employees have the most to contribute
to their own safety by their direct involvement in OSH protection
efforts. Line personnel are in immediate contact with hazardous
chemicals and hazardous situations.
This worksite hands-on knowledge enables them to participate
in hazard identification and problem-solving efforts. This
employee involvement is a cornerstone guiding principle of
our Integrated Safety Management System (ISMS) philosophy.
The DOE Integrated Safety Management System information may
be found at:
An effective safety and health program cannot succeed without
the active participation of all organizational elements. DOE
encourages employee involvement in developing the structure
and participating in the operation of safety and health programs.
DIRECT AND INDIRECT COMMUNICATION
Employee involvement may take many forms. Methods used to
encourage and sustain this involvement vary from facility
to facility. However, two basic elements are necessary to
increase the probability of success, unrestricted lines of
communication and management action to address employee concerns.
Lines of communication may be direct or indirect.
Direct communication means follow:
- standard operating procedures and open-door policy
- open meetings
- committee participation and work teams
- worksite inspections participation, hazard analysis,
and control and design
- safety and health procedures development and design
- accident/incident investigations participation
- safety and health training development, review, and presentation
- one-on-one discussions with the immediate supervisor
Means of indirect communication may include safety suggestion
boxes or an electronic mail (e-mail) system.
Employee involvement takes many forms, such as participation
- union/management safety and health committees
- specific-function committees
- workplace safety committees
- site inspections
- safety observer roles
- routine hazard analysis assistance
- site safety requirements and standard operating procedures
development or revisions
- Training Qualified employees who are trainers or mentors
are valuable resources.
All DOE Federal employees are responsible for maintaining safe
and healthful working conditions. Outlined below are employees'
rights and responsibilities. The DOE FEOSH Poster must be posted
in all Federal workspaces in an area where employees might congregate,
such as a lunch room area. View the DOE FEOSH poster at the
Workers have the right to:
- Accompany DOE worker protection personnel during workplace
- Participate in FEOSH activities during official time.
- Express worker protection concerns.
- Decline to perform an assigned task because of a reasonable
belief that, under the circumstances, the task poses an
imminent risk of death or serious bodily harm to that individual,
along with a reasonable belief that there is insufficient
time to seek effective redress through the normal hazard
reporting and abatement procedures.
- Access DOE worker protection publications, DOE-prescribed
standards, and the organization's own worker protection
standards or procedures applicable to the workplace.
- Receive notification when monitoring results indicate
they were overexposed to hazardous materials.
- Receive results of inspections and accident investigations
- Have one or more employee representatives participate
in briefings and the walk- around phase of oversight inspections.
- Report hazards without fear of reprisal.
- Refuse to work when faced with an imminent danger of
death or serious injury.
- File a discrimination complaint if punished for reporting
hazards or refusing to work when faced with an imminent
- Request information about safety and health hazards in
the workplace, precautions that may be taken, and procedures
to be followed if the worker is involved in an accident
or is exposed to toxic substances.
- Receive appropriate safety equipment and/or PPE, as well
as appropriate training in its selection, use, cleaning,
- Access relevant exposure and medical records.
- Review (or have an authorized representative review)
occupational injuries summary information.
- Receive notification and provide input when an organization
applies for a worker protection standard exemption or when
an alternative worker protection standard is written.
- Receive notification when a worker protection standard
or alternative worker protection standard is approved.
Along with rights come certain responsibilities. To ensure that
workers participate in and are protected by FEOSH activities,
managers, supervisors, FEOSH POCs, employee representatives,
and the workers themselves are responsible for FEOSH program
FEOSH Program Coordinator/Manager
- Administer FEOSH program for office of responsibility.
- Ensure that required workplace inspections are conducted.
- Investigate and document employee concerns and reports
of unsafe/unhealthful working conditions.
- Facilitate prompt abatement of OSH hazards and monitor
- Encourage employee participation and involvement.
- Provide regular feedback to management concerning OSH.
- Ensure recordkeeping.
- Lead through actions.
- Encourage employee involvement.
- Take immediate and meaningful action to learn about and
address employee concerns.
- Encourage employees to speak up.
- Listen to and seriously approach all concerns and suggestions.
- Represent designated DOE Federal employees in all safety
and health matters.
- Provide information to designated employees concerning
their right to a safe and healthful workplace.
- Notify FEOSH POCs of any reported concerns.
- Learn, understand, and comply with OSHA requirements and
DOE safety and health policies at all times.
- Review and ask questions if you do not understand the
safety and health educational materials posted/distributed.
- Be proactive, safety-conscious, and individually responsible
by keeping yourself and fellow employees free from mishaps.
- Be certain that you completely understand instructions
before starting work and avoid "shortcuts" from
safe work procedures.
- If any doubt exists about the safety and/or healthfulness
of doing a job, stop and get instructions from your supervisor
or FEOSH POC before continuing the work.
- Use appropriate safety equipment and PPE in accordance
with site procedures and training.
- Offer safety and health suggestions to your coworkers
or supervisors whenever you feel they may reduce worker
- Support your supervisors, safety professionals, or other
fellow employees in their safety and health program roles.
- Understand your responsibilities for each arising emergency
- Immediately report suspected safety and health hazards
and concerns found in the workplace to the supervisor.
- Report to your supervisor any site degradation or personal
physical condition that may affect the safe performance
of your or coworkers' duties.
- Immediately report suspected workplace safety and health
hazards, concerns, and violations to your supervisor (and
union representative, if necessary and appropriate).
HAZARD REPORTING SYSTEMS
Employees play a key role in discovering and controlling hazards
that may occur or already exist in the workplace. Daily contact
and hands-on responsibility give them a unique perspective on
work procedures and conditions. A reliable system for employees
to report hazardous work conditions should be established to
increase the effectiveness of the organization's safety and
Several acceptable employee hazard reporting systems are
currently used by DOE and the private sector. More common
systems include oral reports to supervisors and union representatives,
suggestion programs, maintenance work orders, and written
forms providing anonymity. Many sites use a combination of
some or all of these systems.
At all worksites, employee oral reports to supervisors, union
representatives, and safety and health POCs are encouraged.
If the supervisor is properly trained and understands the
scope of his/her responsibility for the workers' safety and
health, informal oral reports are a natural occurrence.
For valid concerns, the supervisor has the additional responsibility
of correcting the hazard, requesting correction by maintenance,
or requesting facility management assistance. Facility managers
may, in turn, request help from the FEOSH Program Manager/Coordinator.
Most work sites encourage this type of reporting. Used alone,
however, it does not provide comprehensive, long-term hazard
correction tracking and trending.
The most frequently used written system is a suggestion program
where employees are encouraged to make safety and health suggestions.
This approach encourages employees to use their imagination
when suggesting safer or more healthful work practices as
well as reporting unsafe conditions and acts.
If these programs are being used to report safety and health
hazards, management must ensure that collection points are
checked several times a day and suggestions are read at the
time of collection to ensure that hazards are corrected in
a timely manner.
If the suggestion program is used as the sole means of reporting
hazards or reporting them in writing, management must ensure
that employees understand how to use the system for all types
of safety and health reporting, not just presenting ideas.
Many medium or large worksites develop or buy an employee
hazards-reporting system such as "STOP," developed
by DuPont. Typical STOP programs include a format for training
employees in basic hazard recognition. Employees write unsafe
conditions and practices on cards, which are usually forwarded
to their supervisor or manager for action and the safety department
for checking and tracking valid hazard corrections.
Maintenance Work Order
For unsafe conditions, maintenance personnel normally will
have to be called to make the proper correction. Contact your
appropriate maintenance dispatcher for specific instructions
and procedures; coordinate with your supervisor.
Note: This system should be used by employees reporting
hazards only if there is a special high-priority code for
maintenance safety and health work orders. In doing so, the
maintenance supervisor is required to give them a higher priority
than production improvement maintenance. Copies should be
immediately carried to the safety department (or site safety
and health professional) so that corrections can be tracked.
None of these hazard reporting systems, by themselves, are
expected to stand alone in ensuring that hazards are corrected.
For example, the maintenance work order system may do an excellent
job of correcting hazardous physical conditions. Hazardous
work practices, however, may need to be addressed via another
Employees should be encouraged to use whatever reporting
mechanism (or combination) makes the most sense and allows
for imaginative approaches in improving working conditions,
work practices, procedures, etc.
While some of the systems described above include writing
on forms, the best written system for your worksite may be
one that you devise for employee hazard reporting. Anonymity,
when desired, may be arranged by asking the reporting employee
to not sign his/her name or give the filled-out form directly
to the supervisor. Responses to anonymous reports may be provided
by posting a typed response on a bulletin board in the area
mentioned in the report.
Written safety and health issues should be reported to the supervisor and FEOSH Manager/Coordinator on DOE HQ F 3790.7, Notice of Unsafe or Unhealthful Working Conditions.
Policy for Reporting Unsafe/Unhealthful Work Conditions
Remember that, in all of these aspects discussed above, some
variations will work better for your site than others.
Make sure your policy
- Encourages employees to report hazards.
- Is well-known and understood.
- Protects reporting employees from harassment.
- Responds appropriately in a timely manner.
- Tracks all hazards to correction.
Use the hazard information to revise your hazard inventory
and/or improve your hazard prevention program.
REPRISAL PREVENTION PROGRAMS
One basic right of DOE Federal employees is to report hazardous
conditions or practices without reprisal. The Department's
policy is that no DOE employee shall be subject to restraint,
interference, coercion, reprisal, or other discrimination
by participating in the DOE FEOSH Program, including filing
a report of unsafe or unhealthy working conditions or exercising
other rights afforded by Section 19 of the OSH Act, Executive
Order 12196, and 29 CFR Part 1960, Subpart G.
If an employee believes that he or she is experiencing a
safety and health reprisal, the allegations should be handled
through the Office of the Inspector General (IG), Employee
Concerns Program, or the current DOE collective bargaining
unit agreement, as outlined on the DOE FEOSH Poster with technical
assistance from the appropriate safety office or the DOE FEOSH
At each site, the New Employee Orientation should inform
employees of appropriate procedures to follow when voicing
concerns and protecting themselves against reprisal. Any employee
or bargaining unit representative who believes that an act
of reprisal or discrimination has been committed may file
a complaint under grievance procedures, or the appropriate
Article contained in the DOE/employee representative Collective
Additionally, if an employee feels uncomfortable in reporting
a concern to the supervisor or safety professional, concerns
may be reported with anonymity to the DOE local or DOE Headquarters
Employee Concerns Program.
The Department of Energy Employee Concerns Program may be
found at: http://energy.gov/diversity/services/protecting-civil-rights/reporting-employee-concerns
Any act of reprisal however slight or subtle against any
employee who has reported a safety and health concern is a
"prohibited personnel practice." A list of proper
"personnel actions" is contained in Title 5 U.S.C.,
2302 (a)(2)(A). "Prohibited personnel actions" are
listed in Title 5 U.S.C., 2302 (b). Any personnel action would
become "prohibited" if issued or authorized as reprisal
or punishment for whistleblowing or exercising a protected
right. Such actions would include significant changes in employee
duties, responsibilities, or working conditions when unrelated
to merit or position requirements.
Any employee who believes that a reprisal or discrimination
act has been committed may file a complaint under grievance
procedures, or the appropriate Article contained in the DOE/employee
representative Collective Bargaining Agreement. An employee
representative grievance must be filed within 15 workdays
of becoming aware of the act or occurrence.
When such grievances are carried through an arbitration hearing,
an arbitrator can order a stay of any "prohibited personnel
practice" (reprisal) and include discipline to the supervisor
involved (P.L. 103-424, October 29, 1994). DOE Order 3750.6
provides guidance on discipline for violations of Title 5
View the DOE FEOSH Program information brochure
General information on employee safety and health concerns
may be found at:
For assistance with your program contact:
David M. Smith, Manager
Federal Employee Occupational Safety and Health
U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Health, Safety and Security
1000 Independence Ave S.W.
Washington D.C. 20585
||Federal Employee Occupational Safety and Health (FEOSH) Program |
U.S. Department of Energy,
Office of Health, Safety and Security (HSS)
1000 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20585-1290
FEOSH Program Manager: Carlos Coffman, HS-23, (301)903-6493 or Carlos Coffman