Worker participation is the second element in OSHA’s updated guidelines for having an effective safety and health program.

You’ll notice, one of the things OSHA did in their guidelines was to separate Management Leadership and Worker Participation into two elements, which helps to reinforce the importance of shared responsibility between the two groups.

Worker Participation Defined

Worker participation means that workers are involved in establishing, operating, evaluating, and improving the safety and health program.

All workers at a worksite should participate, including those employed by contractors, subcontractors, and temporary staffing agencies.

Workers are encouraged to not just participate, but also:

  • Feel comfortable reporting safety or health concerns.
  • Have access to information needed to participate effectively.
  • Have opportunities to participate in all phases of the program.
  • Know that retaliation for reporting safety and health concerns or injuries, illnesses or hazards is illegal.

How to bring this element to life.

  • Management leadership’s visible support of the program not just sets an example for employees; it also demonstrates the importance. Support includes allowing workers the necessary time to participate in the program and maintaining an open-door policy.
  • Establish a process for workers to report injuries, illnesses, close calls and/or near misses, hazards and other safety and health concerns, including an option for reporting these events anonymously.
  • Ensure two-way communication between management and all workers. Report back to workers on a regular basis about action items taken in response to their feedback, including how this information will help to improve workplace safety and health.
  • Make sure workers have the information that is required by OSHA, such as Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) and injury illness data or workplace inspection reports. Other useful information may include job hazard analyses, workplace inspection reports and incident investigation reports.
  • Involve workers in every part of your safety and health program, such as developing goals, analyzing hazards, defining and documenting safe work processes, conducting site inspections and training current co-workers and new hires.
  • Ensure workers from all levels of the organization can participate. This includes workers of all skill levels, education and language.
  • Make sure your workers know the program protects them from being retaliated against for reporting injuries, illnesses and safety hazards. They should be encouraged to exercise their safety and health rights.
  • Post the 11(c) fact sheet prominently in the workplace or make it available for easy access.