Rights and Responsibilities of the Contractor

851 spells out sweeping general requirements in the rule. Briefly, the general requirements include:

  1. Providing a place of employment that is free from recognized hazards having the potential to cause death or serious physical harm to workers; and
  2. Ensuring that work is performed in accordance with all applicable requirements of 851 and site-specific safety and health programs.
  3. That written safety and health programs must describe how the contractor complies with requirements set forth in Subpart C of 851 that apply to hazards associated with the contractor’s scope of work.

For the DOE contractor, Subpart C of 851 details the following requirements for developing a safety and health program. These are controls that an employer has to follow to ensure that plans adequately address the safety of the workers employed at DOE sites across the country. These specific limits are meant to ensure accountability with the law and access to important elements of any safety and health program. 

  1. Establish written policy, goals, and objectives for the safety and health program;
  2. Use qualified safety and health staff (e.g., a certified industrial hygienist, or safety professional) to direct and manage the program;
  3. Assign safety and health program responsibilities, evaluate personnel performance, and hold people accountable for safety and health plan performance;
  4. Provide mechanisms to involve workers and elected representatives in the development of the safety and health program goals, objectives, and performance measures, and in the identification and control of hazards in the workplace;
  5. Provide workers with access to information relevant to safety and health programs;
  6. Establish procedures for workers to report, without reprisal, job-related fatalities, injuries, illnesses, incidents, and hazards, and make recommendations about appropriate ways to control those hazards;
  7. Provide for prompt response to worker reports and recommendations;
  8. Provide for regular communication with workers about workplace safety and health matters;
  9. Establish procedures to permit workers to stop work or decline to perform an assigned task because of a reasonable belief that the task poses an imminent risk of death, serious physical harm, or other hazard to workers, in circumstances where workers believe there is insufficient time to utilize normal hazard reporting and abatement procedures; and
  10. Inform workers of their rights and responsibilities by appropriate means, including posting the DOE-designated Worker Protection Poster in the workplace, where it is accessible to all workers.

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