Consistent with the Biden Administration’s promise to be “the most labor friendly administration” in history,” OSHA recently announced plans to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”), as early as this Spring, to amend 29 CFR 1903.8(c), which is the regulation governing the rights to participate in OSHA inspections by non-employees of the inspected employer.
OSHA-savvy employers may remember that OSHA tried during the Obama/Biden Administration to give union representatives the ability to participate in OSHA inspections at non-union workplaces by way of a formal letter of interpretation in February 2013, commonly referred to as “the Fairfax Memo.” The interpretation letter responded to an inquiry by a labor union about inspection rights:
“May workers at a worksite without a collective bargaining agreement designate a person affiliated with a union or a community organization to act on their behalf as a walkaround representative?”
The question must be considered in the context of the existing regulatory text of 29 C.F.R. 1903.8(c):
“The representative(s) authorized by employees shall be an employee(s) of the employer. However, if in the judgment of the Compliance Safety and Health Officer, good cause has been shown why accompaniment by a third party who is not an employee of the employer (such as an industrial hygienist or a safety engineer) is reasonably necessary to the conduct of an effective and thorough physical inspection of the workplace, such third party may accompany the Compliance Safety and Health Officer during the inspection.”
Notwithstanding a pretty clear regulatory limitation to third party inspection participation rights, OSHA’s responded to the unions interpretation request in the affirmative, explaining that notwithstanding: Continue reading