Rights and Responsibilities of the Worker

As a worker, your primary responsibility is to work within the confines of your contractor’s safety and health program– every contractor must have one.

Workers should take advantage of their rights in a responsible manner and should be free of any form of job discrimination for exercising these rights. In addition to primary responsibilities, workers should perform the basic safety behaviors:

  • Read the worker protection poster;
  • Wear or use prescribed protective clothing and equipment while working;
  • Report hazardous conditions to the supervisor;
  • Report any job-related injury or illness to the employer, and seek treatment promptly;
  • Cooperate with worker protection professionals conducting inspections; and
  • Exercise you’re rights in a responsible manner.

Subpart C of 10 CFR 851 also details the rights of DOE workers; what follows is how you relate to the law most directly. These rights under 851 empower the worker to take action on safety concerns and to be involved with their site-specific safety and health plan.

  1. Participate in activities described in this section on official time;
  2. Have access to:
    1. DOE safety and health publications;
    2. The worker safety and health program for the covered workplace;
    3. The standards, controls, and procedures applicable to the covered workplace;
    4. The safety and health poster that informs the worker of relevant rights and responsibilities;
    5. Limited information on any recordkeeping log (OSHA Form 300). Access is subject to Freedom of Information Act requirements and restrictions; and
    6. The DOE Form 5484.3 (the DOE equivalent to OSHA Form 301) that contains the employee’s name as the injured or ill worker;
  3. Be notified when monitoring results indicate the worker was overexposed to hazardous materials;
  4. Observe monitoring or measuring of hazardous agents and have the results of their own exposure monitoring;
  5. Have a representative authorized by employees accompany the Director or his authorized personnel during the physical inspection of the workplace for the purpose of aiding the inspection. When no authorized employee representative is available, the Director or his authorized representative must consult, as appropriate, with employees on matters of worker safety and health;
  6. Request and receive results of inspections and accident investigations;
  7. Express concerns related to worker safety and health;
  8. Decline to perform an assigned task because of a reasonable belief that, under the circumstances, the task poses an imminent risk of death or serious physical harm to the worker coupled with a reasonable belief that there is insufficient time to seek effective redress through normal hazard reporting and abatement procedures; and
  9. Stop work when the worker discovers employee exposures to imminently dangerous conditions or other serious hazards; provided that any stop work authority must be exercised in a justifiable and responsible manner in accordance with procedures established in the approved worker safety and health program.

Are there ‘teeth’ to the law? Officially, enforcement provisions allow DOE to employ either civil penalties or contractual mechanisms, such as reduction in fees paid to the contractor, when contractors fail to comply with the provisions of that rule. These fines have been in the millions of dollars in some cases. 

See Office of Enforcement’s web page to report a potential violation