The new employee guide was produced to clarify the rights that employees and labor unions have when the commission conducts a review, said Linda Whitsett, a review commission spokesperson.
These rights were not explained clearly enough in the guide that is about to be replaced, Whitsett said. As a result, many workers may not be fully aware of the opportunities they have to become involved in the review process when their employer contests an OSHA citation.
Employees can participate in commission proceedings in two ways. By filing a letter known as a "notice of contest," a worker can challenge the abatement period OSHA has given the employer when cited by the agency. To contest the abatement period, the employee (or the union representative) must have been exposed to the hazard arising from the citation or must be someone who could be exposed to the hazard.
A second way for employees or their union representatives to participate in a case is by "electing party status." They can do this when their employer has filed a notice contesting any part of an OSHA citation.
Becoming a party to a contested citation entitles employees to a number of rights, including the power to provide input in any settlement proceedings, to participate in the discovery process and to question or cross-examine witnesses at a hearing.
Copies of the guide can be obtained by calling the commission's public information office at (202) 606 5398.