An effective safety and health program requires the commitment and energy of many individuals. Employees have valuable input to offer regarding hazards present and solutions available to make the work setting safer. Public sector employees and unions need to take an active role by participating in the health and safety program. Many public sector unions and health and safety advocacy groups have resources available to guide employees in protecting themselves and exercising their rights in the workplace.
As a starting point, PEOSH recommends taking the following steps to increase employee participation in workplace health and safety activities:
- Talk with fellow employees about health and safety concerns
Discuss concerns in meetings, informally, or, consider distributing an anonymous written survey.
- Learn about the hazards that exist in your work setting and the PEOSH standards that apply
Lists of the major public sector work settings and the corresponding applicable PEOSH health standards are available on this Web page.
- Participate in the joint labor-management health and safety committee
Make sure that those on the committee regularly communicate with fellow employees about committee priorities.
- Take part in regular workplace walkthroughs to identify hazards or violations of PEOSH standards>
Examples of these activities for selected worksites are available through the e-Tools Web page on the Federal OSHA Web site. E-Tools are "stand-alone," interactive, Web-based training tools on occupational safety and health topics. Some also use expert system modules, which enable the user to answer questions, and receive reliable advice on how OSHA regulations apply to their work site.
- Report health and safety hazards
PEOSH encourages employees and union representatives to first, use the channels of communication established by the employer for reporting and correcting health and safety hazards. However, if the problem is not corrected and a potential violation of a PEOSH standard persists, contact PEOSH to discuss the problem or file a PEOSH complaint.
- Monitor injury and illness trends in your workplace. Look for clusters of similar injuries or illnesses in departments, work areas or occupational groups
Union representatives and employees are entitled to receive copies of the NJOSH 300 Log of Injuries and Illnesses upon request. Obtain and review the logs to make sure that employees are reporting all work-related injuries and illnesses and that and employers are recording them according to PEOSH regulations. Refer to the following resources for proper reporting procedures.
- Be aware of your rights during a PEOSH enforcement visit or a voluntary consultation
Make sure to supply accurate information on the complaint form about the severity of the hazard, the connection between a hazard and a specific PEOSH standard and whether the hazard poses clear and immediate danger.
Be sure to indicate on the complaint form if you want to be present when the inspection is conducted. Enforcement personnel will attempt to do the unannounced inspection during times when the complainant will most likely be present.
You also have the right to have your name withheld from the employer – this should also be indicated on the form.
An employee representative (chosen by employees not the employer) has a right to accompany the PEOSH compliance officer on the inspection.
When citations are issued to an employer by PEOSH, comment periods will be specified for all parties involved.