Your Rights as a Federal Employee

Federal Occupational Safety and Health Programs

As a federal employee, you:

  • have the right to a safe workplace
  • have the right to report unsafe or unhealthy conditions without fear of reprisal
  • must follow the health and safety rules of their agency

Federal employees are covered under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 through Executive Order 12196. The Executive Order also directed the Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop a basic set of program elements for federal agencies. This resulted in 29 CFR 1960 Basic Program Elements for Federal Employee Occupational Safety and Health Programs and Related Matters.

The Basic Program Elements include:

  • A Designated Agency Safety and Health Officer (DASHO) to oversee the agency's program and ensure the necessary resources are available.
  • Following health and safety standards, including OSHA standards, Executive Order 12196 and Section 19 of the Act.
  • A safety and health program that includes training and education of employees and safety inspections.
  • Making sure employee's know their rights and responsibilities and what the agency's safety and health program entails.
  • A safety and health program that includes:
    • How to identify hazards
    • How to correct
    • How to investigate and record injuries, illnesses and deaths
    • How to respond to emergencies (first aid)
    • Employee participation through safety and health committees.
  • Inspections. OSHA and NIOSH have the right to conduct announced and unannounced inspections. OSHA can cite federal agencies under the OSHAct, EO 12196, and 29 CFR 1960. However, OSHA cannot fine federal agencies.
  • Recordkeeping. Agencies must keep records of accidents and illness. They also have to keep records of exposure to toxic materials.
  • Program evaluation. Agencies must evaluate their safety and health programs every year. OSHA is also supposed to review them.

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