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§1960.28 Employee reports of unsafe or unhealthful working conditions.
(a) The purpose of employee reports is to inform agencies of the existence of, or potential for, unsafe or unhealthful working conditions. A report under this part is not a grievance.
(b) This section provides guidance in establishing a channel of communication between agency employees and those with responsibilities for safety and health matters, e.g., their supervisor, the agency safety and health officials, safety and health committees, safety and health inspectors, the head of the agency, or the Secretary. These channels of communication are intended to assure prompt analysis and response to reports of unsafe or unhealthful working conditions in accordance with the requirements of Executive Order 12196. Since many safety and health problems can be eliminated as soon as they are identified, the existence of a formal channel of communication shall not preclude immediate corrective action by an employee's supervisor in response to oral reports of unsafe or unhealthful working conditions where such action is possible. Nor should an employee be required to await the outcome of such an oral report before filing a written report pursuant to the provisions of this section.
(c) Any employee or representative of employees, who believes that an unsafe or unhealthful working condition exists in any workplace where such employee is employed, shall have the right and is encouraged to make a report of the unsafe or unhealthful working condition to an appropriate agency safety and health official and request an inspection of such workplace for this purpose. The report shall be reduced to writing either by the individual submitting the report or, in the case of an oral notification, by the above official or other person designated to receive the reports in the workplace. Any such report shall set forth the grounds for the report and shall contain the name of the employee or representative of employees. Upon the request of the individual making such report, no person shall disclose the name of the individual making the report or the names of individual employees referred to in the report, to anyone other than authorized representatives of the Secretary. In the case of imminent danger situations, employees shall make reports by the most expeditious means available.
(d) Reports received by the agency. (1) Each report of an existing or potential unsafe or unhealthful working condition should be recorded on a log maintained at the establishment. If an agency finds it inappropriate to maintain a log of written reports at the establishment level, it may avail itself of procedures set forth in §1960.71. A copy of each report received shall be sent to the appropriate establishment safety and health committee.
(2) A sequentially numbered case file, coded for identification, should be assigned for purposes of maintaining an accurate record of the report and the response thereto. As a minimum, each establishment's log should contain the following information: date, time, code/reference/file number, location of condition, brief description of the condition, classification (imminent danger, serious or other), and date and nature of action taken.
(3) Executive Order 12196 requires that agency inspections be conducted within 24 hours for employee reports of imminent danger conditions, within three working days for potentially serious conditions, and within 20 working days for other than serious safety and health conditions. However, an inspection may not be necessary if, through normal management action and with prompt notification to employees and safety and health committees, the hazardous condition(s) identified can be abated immediately.
(4) An employee submitting a report of unsafe or unhealthful conditions shall be notified in writing within 15 days if the official receiving the report determines there are not reasonable grounds to believe such a hazard exists and does not plan to make an inspection based on such report. A copy of each such notification shall be provided by the agency to the appropriate certified safety and health committee, where established under Executive Order 12196. An agency's inspection or investigation report, if any, shall be made available to the employee making the report within 15 days after completion of the inspection, for safety violations or within 30 days for health violations, unless there are compelling reasons, and shall be made available to the Secretary or the Secretary's authorized representative on request.
(e) Reports received by the Secretary of Labor. (1) Agency safety and health programs must have provisions for responding to employees' reports of unsafe or unhealthful working conditions and the Secretary encourages employees to use agency procedures as the most expeditious means of achieving abatement of hazardous conditions. It is recognized, however, that employee reports may be received directly by the Secretary.
(2) When such reports are received directly from an employee or employee representative, the Secretary shall, where a certified safety and health committee exists, forward the report to the agency for handling in accordance with procedures outlined in §1960.28(d). A copy of the response to the originator shall be sent to the Secretary.
(3) Where there is no certified safety and health committee, or when requested by half the members of a committee, the Secretary may initiate an inspection or other appropriate action. When the Secretary determines that an inspection is warranted, the Secretary shall observe the same response times as required of the agencies under the Executive Order and §1960.28(d)(3). When the Secretary determines not to make an inspection, the report shall be forwarded to the agency for handling in accordance with procedures outlined in §1960.28(d). A copy of the response to the originator shall be sent to the Secretary.