A new OSHA proposal could potentially open up workplace safety inspections to worker advocacy and environmental groups, union organizers, and community activists who may seize on opportunities to advance agendas unrelated to workplace safety issues.
On August 30, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a proposal to amend its regulation authorizing which individuals can serve as representatives of employees and employers during the physical inspection of a workplace. OSHA’s stated purpose is to clarify the right of workers and certified bargaining units to specify a worker or union representative regardless of whether the representative is an employee of the employer, even in the absence of a recognized collective bargaining agreement.
OSHA contends that the current regulation explicitly allows walkaround participation by an employee representative who is not an employee of the employer. However, their interpretation conflicts with the specific language in the regulation, which states that “The representative(s) authorized by employees shall be an employee(s) of the employer.”
OSHA’s proposed amendment will revise the language to authorize participation by third parties who are not employed by the employer. Historically, these individuals have provided subject matter expertise specific to the focus of the inspections, such as industrial hygienists or engineers, on behalf of OSHA or the employer. If the proposal is finalized in its current form, these individuals could potentially include worker advocacy and environmental groups, union organizers, and community activists who may seize on opportunities to advance agendas unrelated to workplace safety.
AGC is currently working with chapters, members, and coalition partners to submit comments, which are due October 30, 2023.
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