Public Employee Press
OSHA, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration,
has jurisdiction over private sector workers including employees
at city cultural institutions such as museums and zoos but not
over government workers.
The Public Employee Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1980 extended
the same safety and health standards that OSHA uses to public sector workers
in New York State.
The PESH Bureau of the state Labor Dept. is responsible for enforcing
OSHA standards at state and city worksites. A PESH worksite inspection
can result from an accident, a complaint from workers or their union,
or a regular inspection program. Employers must notify PESH immediately
if there is a death on the job or several workers injured in the same
Inspectors who find violations of PESH/OSHA standards issue a Notice of
Violation and Order to Comply. The notice describes the violations, rates
each violation (serious, non-serious, willful or repeat) and orders the
employer to correct the problem by a specific date. If the employer fails
to correct the violation in time, PESH can levy penalties of $50-$200
per day per violation.
Both the employer and employees (or their union) can appeal the findings
of the PESH inspector and further appeals are possible.
Ask the pros
Bringing PESH in to inspect a worksite can be slow and complicated. For
example, standards on poor air quality in an office are extremely limited.
If PESH finds no violation of its standards, the employer will often say
that PESH found no problem and therefore everything is fine. In this case,
it would be better to use the union contract to enforce healthier working
Staff at the DC 37 Safety and Health Dept. are experienced in dealing
with PESH and are available to inspect worksites and prepare PESH complaints
for DC 37 locals.
If you believe your workplace needs a PESH inspection, contact your
DC 37 rep, who can work with the unions Safety and Health Dept.
to arrange for an inspection.