conference on occupational safety & health

Employees' Rights and Responsibilities under the New York State Public Employee Safety and Health Act.

New York State's Public Employee Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1980 provides safety and health coverage to all public employees at the State and local levels. The Act provides that the same safety and health standards that apply to workers in the private sector, OSHA Standards, will be applied to employees in the public sector. This brochure is designed to give you a broad understanding of the features of the law.

Employee Responsibilities:

Under the Act, employees include all employees of the State, any political subdivision of the State, and public authorities created by the State. An employer is required to furnish a workplace that is free from recognized hazards to employees. The employees also have responsibilities to comply with the safety and health standards (OSHA Standards) and other regulations that apply to their own actions and conduct on the job.

Penalty Assessment:

An employer who fails to correct a violation by its abatement date is subject to a PER DAY penalty assessment. A penalty of up to $50 per day for each non-serious violation, and of up to $200 per day for each serious violation, will be assessed until th violations are com- plied. The penalty assesses for each violation will be listed in the Failure to Abate Notice.

Standards:

The law requires the Commissioner of labor to adopt all standards promulgated under the United States Occupational Safety and Health Act

Inspections:

The Commissioner of labor has been given exclusive authority to enforce the safety and health standards promulgated under the Act. An inspection can result from a complaint, an accident, or as part of a regularly scheduled inspection program. Imminent danger complaint inspections receive the highest inspection priority.

A representative of the employer and a representative of the employees are entitled to accompany the inspector during the course of an inspection. This is known as the "walk around."

Enforcement:

If a Notice of Violation and Order to Comply is issued to an employer, it will describe the specific nature of the violation, including reference to the standard alleged to have been violated, the type of violations (serious, non-serious, willful or repeat), and set a reasonable time for compliance. When the Commissioner issues an order to comply, the employer must post it or a copy conspicuously at or near each place of violation cited, where it will be clearly visible to affected employees. The Commissioner will make copies of Orders to Comply available to all organizations that represent employees.

Employee Contest:

An affected employee or authorized employee representative may submit a notice of contest in writing with respect to the abatement period in the Notice of Violation and Order to Comply.

Informal Conference:

An informal conference is a means for a Supervising Inspector of the Public Employee Safety and Health (PESH) Bureau and an employer, employee, or an authorized representative of the employees to meet and discuss issues arising from an inspection and the resultant orders to comply. A request for an informal conference must be made to the nearest PESH district office by telephone or letter, within 20 working days from the issue date on the orders.

Appeals:

When employees do not agree with the Commissioner's issuance of an order, the employees or their representative may, (in accordance with Section 1 01 of the Labor Law), petition the Industrial Board of Appeals for review. The appeal should be addressed to the Industrial Board of Appeals, Empire State Plaza, Agency Building 2, 20th Floor, Albany, NY 12223, as prescribed by its Rules of Procedure, which may be obtained from the Board. In cases where an employer or an employee is dissatisfied with a decision of the Industrial Board of Appeals, either may begin a proceeding according to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, provided they do so within 60 days after the Board's decision.

Alternative Compliance Agreement:

In situations where citations have been issued and the Public Employer proposes an alternative method of compliance, PESH may enter into an alternative compliance agreement. PESH will enlist the services of the Division of Safety and Health's Engineering Services Unit (ESU) to assist the review of the Employer's proposal. The Employer will submit a proposal for an alternative method of compliance to ESU, which will review it and schedule a meeting to discuss and refine the proposal. The meeting attendees will be the Employer, affected Unions and PESH. The results of this meeting will be written up into an alternative compliance agreement to which all parties have agreed. PESH will conduct an inspection to ensure the employer has complied with the alternative compliance agreement.

Injunctions:

When an inspector observes a situation' believed to present an imminent danger of serious physical harm or death to an employee, the inspector shall notify the employees involved and the employer, and request immediate corrective action. If the employer concurs with the inspector and takes action to remove the imminence of the danger, an injunction will not be necessary. If the employer does not concur and refuses to take action to remove the imminence of the danger, the inspector will advise both parties that a recommendation will be made that the Commissioner of labor take legal action to alleviate the situation. I such situations the Commissioner is required to seek injunctive relief within 48 hours. If the Commissioner fails to seek this relief, any person affected by the situation may do so.

Petition to Modify an Abatement Date:

An employer may apply for a Petition to Modify an Abatement Date. This would be done when the employer is unable to comply with a violation because of unavailability of professional or technical personnel, or of materials and equipment needed to come into compliance. In addition, the employer must prove that all available steps are being taken to protect the employees exposed to the hazard and to institute a program to reach compliance as quickly as practicable.

Variances:

Permanent variances may be requested by an employer from a standard promulgated under the Act. Employees must be given notice of each application and the opportunity to participate in a hearing.

The Commissioner may issue a permanent variance after due process, including a hearing, if evidence shows that the conditions, practices, means, methods, operations, or processes used or proposed by the employer will provide employment and places of employment as safe and healthful as those which would prevail if the employer complied with the standard.

A permanent variance may be modified or revoked by an application by the employer, employee or employee representative or by the Commissioner after six months from its issuance.

An employer may apply for a temporary variance from a newly promulgated standard if the employer is unable to comply by the effective date because of the unavailability of

Record Keeping:

Part 801 of Title 12 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York specifies the record-keeping requirements established by the Commissioner of labor under Sec. 27a of the labor law. Contact one of the offices listed on this brochure for a copy of the rules.

Discrimination:

No employer may discharge or otherwise discipline or in any manner discriminate against any person because the employee has filed a com- plaint or instituted, or caused to be instituted, any proceeding under or related to this program. Employees who consider that discrimination has been practiced against them may file a complaint with the Commissioner of labor. The Commissioner must investigate the allegation and make a determination in the matter.

For additional information, contact the nearest district office.

ALBANY 12240
W. Averell Harriman State Campus
Bldg. 12, Rm. 158
Tel: (518) 457-5508

BINGHAMTON 133901
44 Hawley Street, Rm. 901
Tel: (607) 721-8211

BUFFALO 14202
65 Court Street
Tel: (716) 847-7133

GARDEN CITY
400 Oak Street
Garden City, NY 11550
Tel: (516) 228-3970

NEW YORK CITY
247 W. 54th Street – 4th Floor
New York, NY 10019
Tel: (212) 621-0773

ROCHESTER 14607
109 S. Union Street, Rm. 402
Tel: (585) 258-4570

SYRACUSE 13202
450 South Salina Street
Tel: (315) 479-3212

UTICA 13501
207 Genesee Street
Tel: ( 315) 793-2258

WHITE PLAINS 10605
120 Bloomingdale Road
Tel: (914) 997-9514

workplace violence prevention dvd

Statewide Officers

Danny Donohue, President
Mary E. Sullivan, Executive Vice President
Denise Berkley, Secretary
Joe McMullen, Treasurer

Standing Safety and Health Committee

James McHugh, Chair, Region 5
George Walsh, Region 1
Frank Cosentino, Region 2
Karen Pecora, Region 3
Anthony DeCaro, Region 5
Jeanette Engle, Region 5
Paul Blujus, Region 6


NYS Labor Law Article 2, Section 27-b
Public Employer Workplace Violence Prevention
To-Do List for Union Leaders

The Department of Labor has not yet published a final rule to address workplace violence. A final rule is not expected to be in place before Spring of 2008. Many public employers have already begun to implement various requirements of the draft code rule. Even without a final rule, many workplace violence prevention program areas can be addressed. As CSEA leaders, it is expected that we do all that we can in anticipation of a final rule.

The Public Employer Workplace Violence Prevention Law is somewhat employee friendly. A key part of the law requires employee involvement. This employee involvement is a critical element of a successful program. Workers who perform a task know what the hazards are for that task. Naturally, the worker is an invaluable tool in determining the relative risk that each job entails. Worker involvement will ensure that the right hazards are addressed. You can ensure that the right hazards are addressed at your worksite by following these tips.

  • Form a local or unit safety and health committee. You will need their help!
  • Create a list of authorized local or unit representatives. Officially present it to management.
  • Inform / educate your members about this new law.
  • Know the type and extent of violence you encounter at your workplace.
  • Review the Log of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, incident / accident reports, workers' compensation data, and other statistics.
  • Survey your membership. Find out where and what problems are out there.
  • Physically inspect your workplaces for potential sources of workplace violence.
  • Create a list of areas of concern, unsafe procedures, known security problems, and risk factors that can lead to workplace violence incidents.
  • Create a list of ideas and solutions to reduce or eliminate those areas of concern.
  • Know what the problems are and how to fix them before going to the bargaining table.
  • Be prepared to take a lead role in this process at your workplace and drive the process.
  • Ensure that the hazards that you have identified are addressed in your employer's workplace violence prevention plan.

NYS Labor Law, Article 2 Section 27-b
Public Employer Workplace Violence Prevention
Seven Steps to Comply with 27-b

1. Establish a Workplace Violence Committee.

  • Labor-Management Committee (authorized employee
    representatives & managers with authority).
  • Employees are given time to attend committee meetings.
  • Set time, date & frequency of meetings.
  • Inform staff who is on the committee to encourage communication.

2. Develop and Implement a Workplace Violence Policy Statement.

  • Address all potential "types" of workplace violence.
  • Should not contradict established contractual procedures.
  • Discuss the incident alert & notification procedure.
  • Provide for employee involvement.

3. Conduct a Workplace Examination to Identify Hazards.

  • Record Examination;

Review any & all appropriate records,
Identify trends,
Determine the level of relative risk.

  • Workplace Evaluation and Determination;

Address all jobs & work locations,
Use a combination of methods to identify risk factors; physical inspections, employee surveys, focus groups, hazard mapping, & others.

4. Implement Hazard Control Measures.

  • Protective devices, procedures, or rules the employer will take to
    prevent workplace violence incidents.
  • Must address all specific hazards identified in the workplace
    examination.

5. Develop a Written Workplace Violence Prevention Program.

  • List the risk factors identified in the workplace examination.
  • List the specific hazard control measures implemented for each risk
    factor identified.
  • Provide for a workplace violence incident reporting system.
  • Include an outline or lesson plan of the training program for workers.
  • Should address crisis counseling if necessary.
  • Update annually.

6. Worker Training.

  • Must train all workers at initial hire & annually thereafter.
  • Requirements of 27-b.
  • Risk factors identified in their workplace.
  • Control methods implemented to protect them.
  • Procedure for providing crisis counseling.

7. Program Evaluation and Modification

  • Compare & contrast the data reviewed in the Record Examination
    annually.
  • Review & identify trends from the previous year's workplace violence
    incident reports.
  • Adjust or modify the workplace violence prevention program as
    necessary.