OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
OSHA EXPANDS EMPLOYEE INVOLVEMENT IN SAFETY AND HEALTH CONSULTATION VISITS
Employees will now play a larger role in federally-funded worksite consultation visits. The on-site consultation programs funded by OSHA, and managed by state agencies, provide expert advice from trained consultants to assist employers in identifying workplace hazards and in establishing safety and health programs.
"Employees often have firsthand knowledge of hazards in the workplace," said OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress. "Workers' participation in the visit and in the correction of problems helps ensure the effectiveness of the consultation in improving workplace conditions."
Through the workplace consultation program, 164,088 hazards were corrected in Fiscal Year 1999, following 25,539 consultations. Consultation is free, but employers who request help must agree, in advance, to correct all serious hazards identified by the consultant. Top priority goes to hazardous industries with fewer than 250 employees on site or no more than 500 employees nationwide.
The new rule specifies that authorized employees have the right to accompany the consultant during the physical inspection of the workplace. Where there is no authorized representative, or where one cannot be determined, the consultant should speak to a reasonable number of employees about workplace safety and health. Authorized representatives may now participate in opening and closing conferences with the consultant (either separately or jointly with the employer).
Under the revised rule, employers must post a list of the serious hazards identified by the consultant and the dates for completing the corrective action. The list must be posted in a prominent place, easily observed by all affected employees for three days or until the hazards are corrected, whichever is later. A copy of the posted list will also be given to the authorized employee representative who participated in the consultation. The rule permits electronic posting of the hazards list, where the employer demonstrates that electronic posting is as effective as hard copy posting.
The rule offers special recognition through the "Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program" (SHARP) for employers who complete a consultation visit and meet specific requirements, including correcting all hazards and demonstrating that all the elements of a safety and health program are in place. SHARP participants receive a one-year exemption from general schedule OSHA inspections. The rule also calls for OSHA to grant inspection deferral to sites working with state consultants to achieve the recognition and exemption status.
OSHA adopted the new rule after reviewing 205 comments received in response to its July 2, 1999, proposal. The final rule, "Consultation Agreement: Changes to Consultation Procedures," 29 CFR Part 1908, is scheduled for publication in the October 26, 2000 Federal Register. The rule will become effective on December 26, 2000.
The text of this news release is on the World Wide Web at www.osha.gov. Information on this news release will be made available to sensory-impaired individuals upon request. Phone: (202) 693-1999.
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