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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Safety: Employee Rights & Responsibilities
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Employee Rights and Responsibilities

(adapted from Manual 230 - updated: 12/5/2005)


All employees have the right to:

  • Work in a safe, secure, and healthy work area.
  • Decline to perform their assigned tasks, without fear of reprisal, because of a reasonable belief that potentially hazardous or unsafe conditions exist.
  • Participate in the SHEM Program.  Employees may be authorized official time to participate in activities provided by E.O. 129196, 29 CFR 1960, and the REE Program.
  • Have access to safety, health, and environmental standards; workplace injury and illness statistics; and occupational safety, health, and environmental procedures.
  • Comment on alternate safety, health, and environmental standards being proposed.
  • Report and request inspections of unsafe and unhealthy working conditions to the appropriate officials as discussed in 29 CFR 1960.28.  If conditions are not promptly or effectively corrected or if it appears that an employee's right to report potentially hazardous conditions are being infringed upon, the employee or designated representative may seek further resolution through the designated safety liaison, the Assistant Secretary for Administration, or OSHA, DOL.


All employees have the responsibility to:

  • The extent and scope of their authority, ensure safe and healthful workplaces.
  • Comply with all applicable Federal, State, and local regulations; safety, health, and environmental standards; and all rules, regulations, and orders.
  • Ensure the proper and timely reporting of all accidents, injuries, illnesses, and environmental releases; prepare the appropriate forms; and make timely notification to supervisory/management employees of the causes and corrective actions recommended, which may include training.
  • Perform all assigned tasks in a manner conducive to the safety and health of themselves, their fellow employees, the public, and the environment.
  • Properly use all applicable safety, health, environmental, and personal protective equipment and clothing.
  • Avail themselves of medical surveillance and/or counseling through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and other voluntary progams to maintain their physical and mental health and safety in accordance with polices and regulations.  Supervisory approval/concurrence should be acquired except where confidentiality is guaranteed.
  • Participate fully in the program with freedom from restraint, interference, coercion, discrimination, or reprisal.
  • Participate in and maintain appropriate training and certification as required to work safely.
  • Rectify safety, health, and environmental hazards as they find them, and notify the next level of management if they are not within their ability and resources to rectify.
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Last Modified: 3/12/2010
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