Frequently Asked Questions
Anyone with safety and health responsibilities, or is a representative of a federal labor organization, can participate in a FFSHC. FFSHC participants include occupational safety and health professionals and collateral duty personnel from federal, state and local government agencies; labor-management organizations; local businesses; employer's trade associations; and, professional societies. There is no limit to the number of individuals that may join an FFSHC or attend a FFSHC meeting or activity.
A list of FFSHCs in your area can be found by visiting OSHA's FFSHC website. These councils are free and most meetings are open to the public. Attendees of these meetings must cooperate with the host employers' site access and safety rules.
If there are no FFSHCs in your area, please contact the Federal Agency Program Officer in your region to discuss if a new council should be chartered. The Secretary of Labor may establish a FFSHC in any area where 10 or more federal establishments totaling 300 or more employees are located within an area having a radius of 50 miles, and when those agencies agree that a council would be useful.
FFSHCs determine the dates and locations of their meeting prior to the start of the calendar year. To get meeting dates, please contact the chairperson of the council near you.
Yes, you can! Participation is not limited to safety and health professionals, and no agency or organization is too small to participate. Associate membership may be granted to non-federal employees with a demonstrated interest in occupational safety and health.
Federal agency heads can appoint an employee to a local FFSHC by submitting a FFSHC Member Designation form to the appropriate FFSHC Chairperson or Federal Agency Program Officer. To apply for an Associate Membership, please submit a FFSHC Associate Member form to the appropriate council contact.
As an officially appointed member, you have the opportunity to serve as an officer on an Executive Committee and you have voting privileges. By appointing you to a FFSHC, your agency demonstrates its commitment to the safety and health of its employees. Your agency's participation in an FFSHC is documented in the annual Secretary of Labor's Report to the President on Federal Department and Agency Occupational Safety and Health Program Activity.
Yes, you can! Participation is not limited to safety and health professionals, and no agency or organization is too small to participate. Membership may be grated to any federal employee with safety and health responsibilities.
A federal agency may seek assistance from the FFSHC for various training functions, such as identifying training needs, serving as a clearinghouse for information, suggesting trainers, or providing FFSHC experts to assist in conducting the course. However, the federal agency must handle financial and contractual matters. If the FFSHC safety and health experts who assist in conducting the training are federal employees, they must not receive additional compensation. If the sponsoring agency decides that it is lawful and appropriate to collect fees to defray the direct and indirect costs of training (room and audiovisual rental, copying course materials, instructor fees), the agency cannot identify training as FFSHC or OSHA training.
No. FFSHCs are an "extension" of OSHA for outreach, training, and communication purposes; but, they are not advisory committees. They do not develop or establish OSHA policy and they do not operate under the conditions required by the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
No. FFSHCs and their officers or members are not authorized to contract with non-Federal persons or organizations for goods or services. OSHA does not delegate fiscal authority to FFSHCs, so they cannot handle or commit funds.
Yes. They include, among others, restrictions on FFSHCs’ acceptance of gifts and voluntary services from an Associate Member. In addition, inappropriate use of the services of an Associate Member may inadvertently create a Federal employment relationship that may raise questions under the conflict of interest laws and regulations. For these reasons, Associate Members should not be asked to help write or produce reports or plans, or to help perform other Council projects. In addition, Associate Members may not hold any office. Federal employees must perform these activities. While Associate Members may choose to share their personal or professional experiences with the FFSHCs, the FFSHC should seek legal advice from the U.S. Department of Labor before permitting Associate Members to participate in any substantial activities that raise questions in connection with these restrictions. Associate Members are not considered Federal employees for any purpose. They do not receive compensation, payment, or benefits of any kind from the Federal government and are not regarded as providing services to the government.
No. FFSHCs cannot engage in moneymaking endeavors. FFSHCs and their officers or members are not authorized to contract with private vendors, collect or disperse fees for goods or services, retain monies, incur expenses, bill for such activities, or lend the name of OSHA or DOL in support of a private vendor. Collecting money from outside sources, such as private sector vendors, would be an illegal augmentation of OSHA's appropriation. In addition, FFSHCs cannot endorse goods or services offered by private sector vendors.
No. FFSHCs do not have independent authority to receive and use funds from other Federal agencies. Only OSHA officials can approve and execute transfers of appropriated funds between Federal departments or agencies. Any such transfers are complex matters governed by laws, including the requirements of the appropriations laws and the Economy Act. FFSHC officers should contact OSHA regional staff if questions arise concerning these matters.
No. Only the Secretary of Labor has the authority to accept gifts for OSHA; OSHA has no independent authority in this regard. For the same reasons, FFSHCs cannot accept support, including free or reduced-cost services or goods, from non-Federal organizations or persons. FFSHCs may not solicit or accept the unpaid volunteer services of students, spouses, children, retirees, community groups, local police or fire personnel, or FFSHC associate members. FFSHCs must not arrange for uncompensated speakers, trainers, experts, or consultants without OSHA’s advance approval.
FFSHCs that wish to sponsor training should provide the FAPO with a proposed budget request that adequately describes all proposed training activities and all expected expenses, such as fees for room rentals, training aids or materials, travel, and instructors, etc. Due to the need for incorporating FFSHC budget requests into the Region's overall budgetary considerations, FFSHC proposed budget requests for the following calendar year should be submitted to the FAPO by the first of September. OSHA will assess the proposed activities and resource needs, and determine whether the FFSHCs will receive funds for the activities. Please note that OSHA funding for one FFSHC activity cannot be redirected to another activity without asking for and receiving OSHA's approval.
No. FFSHCs cannot collect dues from federal agencies or from non-federal members for any purpose. While there is no prohibition on FFSHC members voluntarily pooling their own money to pay for refreshments at meetings, the FFSHCs must not collect and/or hold these monies.
Yes. A Federal agency wishing to sponsor training may seek assistance from the FFSHC for various support functions, such as identifying training needs, serving as a clearinghouse for information about registration for the course, suggesting trainers, or providing FFSHC experts to assist in conducting the course. However, the Federal agency must handle financial and contractual matters. If the FFSHC safety or health experts who assist in conducting the training are Federal employees, they must not receive additional compensation. If a sponsoring agency decides that it is lawful and appropriate to collect fees to defray the direct and indirect costs of training (room and audiovisual rental, copying course materials, instructor fees) it is important that the training not be identified as FFSHC or OSHA training. FFSHCs are under OSHA jurisdiction and control.
No. Members may not make such contacts as spokespersons or representatives on behalf of FFSHCs. While every Federal employee has the right to contact his or her elected representatives in a personal capacity and on matters of personal concern, such contacts must not be made on government time or with government resources. The member must also make it clear that he or she is contacting the Representative or Senator as a constituent and not as a representative of OSHA, his or her agency, or on behalf of the FFSHC. This means that he or she may only use personal stationery and may not use a government title. Provisions of Federal law, including criminal law, govern contacts with Congress.
No. 29 CFR 1960.84(b) permits Federal agency heads to define which of their field activities will participate in FFSHC meetings and events. It is the Federal agency's decision to participate in and support an FFSHC.
No. Depending on budgetary considerations, OSHA may develop a webpage for each FFSHC and arrange for a link for each webpage. There are guidelines and requirements for OSHA-sponsored webpages and, since FFSHCs are OSHA entities, careful review of FFSHC webpage content by OSHA is necessary.