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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

SM 445-2-H CHAPTER 8

Employee Reports of Unsafe Conditions and Allegations of Reprisal

Instruction:  This chapter is revised to reference the new Inspection and Abatement System which provides employees with a Web-based method to report unsafe and unhealthful conditions.

1.  Purpose.  To specify requirements for investigating and resolving employee reports of unsafe or unhealthful conditions and allegations of reprisal.

2.  References.

A. Executive Order 12196, Section 1-2-1 (f) and (h).

B. 29 CFR 1960.28, Employee Reports of Unsafe or Unhealthful Working Conditions.

C. 29 CFR 1960, Subpart G, Allegations or Reprisal.

3.  Informal (Verbal) Employee Reports of Unsafe or Unhealthful Conditions.

A. USGS employees are encouraged to report unsafe or unhealthful conditions to help prevent accidents and injuries.  Local managers should establish informal processes to encourage personnel to report unsafe or unhealthful conditions to their supervisors and to encourage supervisors to take prompt and appropriate action. 

B. All levels of management shall ensure that employees are informed of all channels for reporting unsafe and unhealthful conditions.  Emphasis should be placed on personal responsibility for making such reports.  The methods of hazard reporting within the USGS are listed below in order of succession:

(a)  Line Supervisor (Preferred).

(b)  Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinator or Safety Committee.

(c)  Organizational Manager (Team/Center Management Level).

(d)  Regional Safety Officer.

(e)  Regional Safety Manager.

(f)  Bureau Safety Manager.

(g)  Designated Agency Safety and Health Official.

C.  In the case of imminent danger, employees or their representatives should make reports to the line supervisor or local management by the most expeditious means available and follow up with written reports.  Imminent danger refers to any condition or practice that could reasonably be expected to cause death or serious physical harm before normal abatement actions can be taken.  Imminent danger conditions will be investigated within 24 hours, potentially serious conditions investigated within 3 working days, and other hazardous conditions investigated within 20 working days. 

D.  Notification involving imminent danger or loss of life shall be made by telephone to the Regional Safety Manager and Regional Safety Officer with follow up in writing.  Imminent danger reports will be investigated immediately, but not later than 24 hours after notification by the Line Supervisor, Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinator, Management Official, and/or the Regional Safety Manager/Officer, as applicable.

4.  Formal (Written) Employee Reports of Unsafe or Unhealthful Conditions.

A. Formal reports should be made online by using the Web portal: http://130.11.8.41/IAS_USGS_ReportUnsafeCondition.asp  Employees may also use Form 9-3074, USGS Unsafe or Unhealthful Condition Report.   In both cases, the reports should go directly to local management or to the Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinator.

B. Both the Web-based reporting tool and Form 9-3074 allow employees the opportunity to remain anonymous.  Anonymous reports shall be investigated in the same manner as signed reports.  Employees submitting signed reports that request anonymity will have their identities kept confidential to anyone other than those authorized by the OSH Act.

C. Information from an online report of an unsafe or unhealthful condition is automatically entered into the USGS Inspection and Abatement System (IAS) log.   The Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinator is then responsible for working with local managers to determine if the reported condition is valid and, if so, to abate the condition.  All reports are tracked until resolved (see 29 CFR 1960.71).

D. The responsible management official shall send a written reply to the originator (if known) of the report within 10 working days of receipt of report of unsafe or unhealthful conditions.  This message will notify the originator of the abatement action if the condition is valid.  Every effort, including consultation with the Regional Safety Officer/Manager or Bureau Safety Manager, will be made to resolve the concern of the employee to mutual satisfaction.  If the condition is investigated and found to be invalid, the originator shall also be notified citing the rationale for determining that it was not valid and providing the originator with appeal rights. 

E. If more than 30 days is needed to abate the condition, the employee will be kept appraised of the abatement status every 30 days until final abatement is achieved.

5.  Appeals

A.  If management determines that a reported condition is not valid or if an employee believes an unsafe or unhealthful condition has not been abated, the employee or the employee’s representative may appeal to higher authorities, including the Departmental Designated Agency Safety and Health Official (DASHO) and the Secretary of Labor (see 29 CFR 1960.28).

B. Employee appeals shall be made using the Web-based reporting tool or Form 9-3074. 

C. Appeals should be sent initially to the Regional Safety Manager. 

D. If the condition cannot be resolved at the regional level, the appeal should be forwarded to the Bureau Safety Manager and then to the USGS Designated Safety and Health Official for resolution.

E. If the condition is not resolved at the Bureau level, the employee may submit an external appeal by sending Form 9-3074, Appendix 8-1, in this Handbook, to the Director, Office of Occupational Health and Safety, DOI, and the Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Washington, D.C.  A copy of Form 9-3074 for all external appeals should be sent to the Bureau Safety and Health Management Branch, Mail Stop 246.

6.  Requirements for Handling Employee Allegations of Reprisal.

A. Employee allegations of reprisal related to reporting potentially unsafe or unhealthful conditions will be handled through the administrative grievance procedures (370 DM 771, 3) or appropriate collective-bargaining agreements, with technical assistance from the appropriate safety office as needed.  The specific procedures will be documented by the Bureau and provided to employees.

B. Copies of investigation findings for allegations of reprisal will be provided to the USGS Safety and Healthl Management Branch.  A copy will also be provided to the Secretary of Labor upon request.

7.  Responsibilities.

A. Managers and Supervisors.

(1) Make sure that employees know how to report unsafe or unhealthful conditions using the IAS Web portal and USGS Form 9-3074.

(2) Ensure that no employee will be subjected to reprisal for reporting unsafe or unhealthful conditions.  No employee shall be subject to coercion, reprisal, discrimination, or other adverse action as a result of reporting potentially unsafe or unhealthful working conditions.

(3) Ensure all complaints of unsafe or unhealthful conditions are investigated in accordance with the requirements of this chapter.

(4) In cases of imminent danger, suspend operations until the hazard can be eliminated or controlled.

(5) Immediately inform line managers and the Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinator of all imminent danger conditions and subsequent abatement actions.

(7) Inform employees who report hazardous conditions on the status of planned and actual corrective action. 

(8) On-the-spot correction of the condition requires no further action.

B. Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinators.

(1) Assist managers and supervisors in establishing employee awareness and administering programs for reporting and abating unsafe or unhealthful conditions.

(2) Immediately notify their Regional Safety Officer and Regional Safety Manager of any imminent danger conditions.

(3) Assign a control number (designated by the first four characters of the organization code, fiscal year, and report number [i.e., 4455-97-01]) for reports using USGS Form 9-3074.

(4) Coordinate with managers and supervisors to ensure unsafe or unhealthful condition reports are investigated within 1 workday for imminent danger, 3 workdays for serious conditions, and 20 workdays for other conditions in order to determine the validity of the unsafe condition and recommend corrective action.

(5) Follow up to verify corrective action.  Upon verification, complete and close the report on the local abatement log and send a message to the originator notifying them of the closure.  Should corrective action take longer than 30 days, monthly status reports are to be sent to the originator.

(7) Forward unresolved employee requests for unsafe or unhealthful condition evaluations to the next higher-level (i.e., Regional Safety Officer or Regional Safety Manager) for investigation.  Anonymous or formal reports received by regional safety personnel shall be forwarded to the local level for evaluation and corrective action.

(8) All Form 9-3074 reports shall be maintained locally for a minimum of 5 years. 

C. Bureau and Regional Safety Managers/Officers.  Review electronic and hard copy reports during on-site program assessments.

D. USGS or Contract Employees or their Representatives.  Report unsafe or unhealthful conditions or procedures to the responsible supervisor. The supervisor shall report accidents and

incidents to the Regional Safety Manager through the USGS Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR), defined as a Government employee responsible for technical oversight of contractor performance.

 

/s/Karen D. Baker___________________                              February 4, 2008___________                     
Karen D. Baker                                                                  Date
Associate Director for Administrative Policy and Services


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