How you can get involved

As with most safety programs, employee involvement—your involvement—is critical to success and 851 encourages employee participation at every turn. Your insights are valuable because you experience the job site from a unique perspective—no one sees what you see, not exactly as you see it.

Examples of opportunities for employee involvement in safety and health program implementation include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Participation on committees and planning teams;
  • Participation in worksite inspections, job hazard analyses (JHAs), and design control;
  • Development and review of workplace operating procedures;
  • Assistance in training; and
  • Participation in accident investigations.

Your participation should be included in the development, review, and revision of safety and health related documents and activities, including:

  • Setting performance measures for the worker safety and health program (WSHP);
  • Developing annual goals and objectives;
  • Site inspections and exposure assessments; and,
  • Analyses of facilities, processes, materials, and equipment

Other important options for participation include: hazard control plans, and participation in the development of safety and health plans, standards, and procedures (consistent with labor-management agreements, or course).

Here is the “bottom line” for worker involvement with the contractor–DOE expects the development of a full partnership between the workers and management to create and maintain a safe and healthy working environment. And the essential piece of any partnership is communication. The contractor is responsible to provide for regular communication, but this is only the beginning. To ensure a safe workplace, everyone must feel free and comfortable in discussing all issues.

Here are some of the ways that involvement and communication integrate with our partnership:

Participation on Safety Committees

Committees can promote employee involvement in the development of program goals, objectives, and performance measures, and in the identification and correction of workplace hazards. Many types of committees exist that address worker protection issues, and no one committee organization fits all occasions and activities. Each worker protection committee should consist of employee and management representatives. In order to assure worker participation, committees should consider having a large proportion of non-managerial members; make sure there are more ‘rank and file’ employees than there are managers.

Participation in Design Control, Worksite Inspections, and Hazard Analysis

Eliminating hazards starts with design, and it is important not to miss the first and most critical opportunity to create a safer atmosphere—design and build with safety in mind. Incorporating worker protection features in the design and construction of facilities and equipment is the most cost-effective way to control hazards, and this requires participation of workers that are going to operate the place.

And who knows better how to determine if the workplace is safe? Workers are especially good at finding and reporting safety issues in the work area. Overall safety will improve with a strong program of workplace inspection, hazard identification, and hazard correction in place.

As a worker, you should know about and participate in hazard analyses activities to support the contractor’s work. During design, worker participation in a Preliminary Hazard Analyses (PHA) will increase the chances of building a safe facility. PHAs are detailed studies to identify and analyze potential hazards associated with each aspect of the facility, related equipment, and operations.

During operations, worker participation in Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) brings years of experience to the examination of planned work activities, including construction, demolition, preventive maintenance, and many more. As with the PHA, the JHA is a detailed study of a work activity, down to the hazards that accompany the workman’s tools. 

To start the JHA, a walk of the jobsite is performed to show everyone where the activity will take place and to stimulate discussion about hazards that may be part of the workplace. The JHA will focus on each step in the work activity. Participants will discuss hazards that may be part of the step and then find ways to minimize or eliminate the hazards. When each step has been analyzed, the complete scope of work is reviewed to see if something has been missed.

The JHA is usually followed by a “What-If” analysis. This simple, final step throws open the door to any discussion inside and outside of the box. When properly performed, a JHA and What-If Analysis will ensure that the job will be performed with minimum risk to the worker, the facility, and the environment.

Development and Review of Workplace Operating Procedures

Experienced workers can provide essential insight when reviewing operating procedures. They usually have an unmatched familiarity with the processes and equipment marked for use and can share important lessons learned in a way that will make the operations safer.

Assistance in Training

Qualified employees make excellent instructors for new workers and for continuing education programs. Having employee instructors can enhance worker protection awareness because instructors must keep up with changing requirements to be effective. Also, employee presentations at meetings are an excellent way for employees to share helpful experiences, and demonstrate safety leadership.

Training and mentoring new or junior employees (as in facility operation and maintenance) is a task ideal for more experienced workers. They can also share ideas for effective ways workers can communicate safety and health program issues, and strengthen the partnership with management.

Participation in Accident Investigations

Including employees in accident investigations is a smart move, worth your employer’s time, for several reasons. Worksite employees often provide valuable insight on actual workplace procedures that may have contributed to an incident, and can speak to the effectiveness and practicality of suggested corrective actions. In addition, involvement in accident investigations increase an employee’s awareness of how workplace hazards lead to incidents and how employees can better protect one another.

One way to involve employees in accident investigations is to establish special function committees with a specific scope of responsibility, and to rotate employee membership on the committee periodically. Selected employees should receive training to be integrated with accident investigations and be recognized for contributions.

Ask your employer about the existence of an accident investigation committee.