The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets standards for employee safety in the workplace. OSHA regulations do not cover military operations in most cases. The Army and other branches of the military may choose to use OSHA standards as the basis for their own rules. Violations of these rules may only be enforced by the military branch itself.
Strategic Partnership Program
The strategic partnership program between the Army and OSHA began in 2003. The program was designed to improve conditions for civilians working on military jobsites. OSHA inspectors assess Army facilities on an individual basis and make recommendations for improving safety. However, the inspectors do not have the authority to force the Army to follow their recommendations or impose penalties for violations.
Civilians working on equipment, operations or systems that are not "uniquely military" are covered by OSHA's regulations. The agency may conduct a surprise inspection of the workplace if OSHA has reason to believe civilians are employed in qualifying activities. An activity is considered not uniquely military if it can be performed by a comparable private-sector enterprise, such as construction, health care, office administration, engineering, equipment repairs and maintenance. Uniformed military personnel may be covered when working on operations or activities that are not uniquely military. OSHA does not apply to any activities relating to the design of vehicles, aircraft, weapons or other equipment for the Department of Defense.
If OSHA does apply to the jobsite, the employer must provide personal protective gear for all employees who may be exposed to hazardous conditions. Notices informing the employees of their rights under OSHA must be posted throughout the workplace. All employees must be trained on proper safety procedures and the use of protective gear before they may work in dangerous areas. In addition to these basic precautions, OSHA also imposes industry-specific regulations for jobs such as construction, medical services and auto repair.
The employer is required to report any injuries or exposure to toxins to OSHA and send the affected employee to an approved physician. Employees may also report violations directly to OSHA. If the workplace poses an "immediate and substantial danger," the employee has the right to refuse to work without penalty. Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against an employee for reporting OSHA violations. The employee must report any possible retaliation within 30 days. If OSHA's investigation finds that the employer was acting in response to a workplace violation report, the employee may be entitled to full reinstatement with back pay for all missed time.
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