OSHA Field Safety and Health Management System (SHMS) Manual


  1. Purpose

    Through the Department of Labor, OSHA employees have access to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The EAP provides confidential counseling assessment and referral services. The EAP is designed to help employees deal with any personal or family problems that could interfere with an employee’s performance and/or conduct at work, including marriage, stress, finances, or job-related problems and concerns.

    The EAP is free, voluntary, and confidential. No penalty is imposed upon an employee for accepting or declining to participate in the program. The fundamental purpose of the EAP is to enable employees to achieve their full individual potential, even when stress and problems present difficult challenges in their work environment or personal life.

  2. Scope

    This chapter applies to all federal OSHA employees.

  3. Definition

    The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides counseling services to employees who may be experiencing personal problems that affect their job performance and wellbeing. The main goal of the EAP is to link a troubled employee with people in the community who can help that individual.

    The services provided by EAP are listed in the brochure describing the program and are available in each office.

    The EAP is confidential. If an employee refers him or herself, no one knows but the employee and the EAP counselor.

    The EAP also offers consultation to supervisors to assist them in dealing with employees who may be experiencing problems.

  4. Responsibilities
    1. Responsible OSHA Manager(s)

      1. Maintain current knowledge and awareness of the EAP and the process used for accessing EAP services. Seek consultation from the EAP, as appropriate, for assistance in identifying and approaching troubled employees, providing effective employee feedback, and/or referring employees to the program.

      2. Encourage and support employee participation in the EAP when an employee may be experiencing personal problems and impacting the work environment.

      3. Respect and safeguard the confidentiality of any information provided by the employee or counselor.

      4. Recognize the potential need for EAP services where employees are involved with investigations wherein traumatic events or injuries are involved. As soon as possible after such an event, advise the affected employee(s) of the availability of EAP services.

    2. Administrative Programs or equivalent unit

      1. Coordinate and provide EAP services for OSHA employees.

      2. Promote awareness of EAP services among OSHA employees.

      3. Disseminate information on the procedures to access EAP services to OSHA employees.

    3. Employee

      Voluntarily seek counseling, referral, and information from the EAP, regardless of current level of job performance, if he or she is experiencing a personal, emotional, drug abuse, or alcohol abuse problem. All information is confidential.

  5. Procedures
    1. For counseling assistance, any OSHA employee can contact the Employee Assistance Program at 1-800-222-0364.

    2. An OSHA managers’ concern for an employee’s personal problem is relevant only if the problem causes difficulties in the work setting.

      1. Individuals making referrals under the EAP must not attempt to delve into or diagnose an employee's problem.

      2. Employees must not be coerced or forced to use the program.

      3. Discussions should focus solely on job performance issues.

    3. Employees who coordinate visits to the EAP with Responsible OSHA Manager(s) will be considered to be on official duty while meeting with the EAP.

      1. While employees must inform their supervisor and obtain permission to be away from their job assignment for an appointment, they do not have to disclose the nature of the problem for which they wish to see the counselor.

      2. The Department allows an employee up to one hour (or more as necessitated by travel time) of excused absence for each counseling session during the assessment/referral phase of rehabilitation.

      3. If the EAP makes a referral to an outside source, absences during duty hours for rehabilitation or treatment must be charged to the appropriate leave category

    4. Employees participating in the EAP through self-referral without the supervisor’s knowledge must use sick leave or annual leave for visits to the EAP during work hours.

    5. Any information or reports from the EAP counselor may only be released with written consent by the employee to individuals specifically identified by the employee, or released under a court order.

    6. In a case involving a traumatic incident, the EAP should be contacted as a resource because post-traumatic stress can be a serious problem. EAP can send a Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Team to the office within 3-5 days after a traumatic event occurs.

    7. The union representative can also refer an employee to the EAP.