Worker Participation

To be effective, a safety plan needs the meaningful participation of workers and their representatives. Workers have much to gain from a successful plan and the most to lose if the plan fails. They also often know the most about potential hazards associated with their jobs. Successful plans tap into this knowledge base.

Worker participation means that workers are involved in establishing, operating, evaluating, and improving the safety plan. All workers at a worksite should participate, including those employed by contractors, subcontractors, and temporary staffing agencies.

In an effective safety plan, all workers:

  • Are encouraged to participate in the plan and feel comfortable providing input and reporting safety or health concerns.
  • Have access to information they need to participate effectively in the plan.
  • Have opportunities to participate in all phases of plan design and implementation.
  • Do not experience retaliation when they raise safety and health concerns; report injuries, illnesses, and hazards; participate in the plan; or exercise safety and health rights.

Note: Where workers are represented by a union, it is important that worker representatives also participate in the plan, consistent with the rights provided to worker representatives under the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the National Labor Relations Act.

Encourage Worker Participation in Your Safety Plan

By encouraging workers to participate in the plan, management signals that it values their input into safety and health decisions. As a result, management should:
  • Give workers the necessary time and resources to participate in the plan.
  • Acknowledge and provide positive reinforcement to those who participate in the plan. 
  • Maintain an open-door policy that invites workers to talk to managers about safety and health and to make suggestions. 

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