Business advocacy groups led by the Coalition for Workplace Safety (CWS) are urging the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to withdraw its proposed rule that would allow third parties – including union organizers – to participate in safety inspections.
The proposed rule change has been strongly opposed by business groups, who have pointed out that allowing more individuals to enter an employer’s worksite and accompany inspectors would diminish OSHA’s credibility as a neutral enforcement agency. “The proposed rule would allow third parties with ulterior motives to take advantage of OSHA’s legitimate enforcement processes to further their unrelated interests, which very likely could be hostile to the employer,” the CWS states in a letter to OSHA officials that has been signed by more than 50 organizations, including FEDA.
The letter contends that OSHA should abandon its proposed rule on the following grounds:
- The proposed rule exceeds OSHA’s statutory authority by placing an undue burden on employers and impermissibly weakening the requirement that party representatives must aid in an inspection.
- The proposed rule conflicts with the National Labor Relations Act, lacks the necessary structure to determine who qualifies as an “authorized representative” and fails to account for the right of employees to reject representation.
- The proposed rule violates employer property rights and presents Fourth Amendment issues.
- The proposed rule complicates and weakens the act’s protection of employer trade secrets and increases employer liability risks.
- The proposed rule discourages employer cooperation with OSHA and creates administrative burdens that will slow down inspections.
- OSHA cannot remove or weaken the “reasonably necessary” requirement.
“The proposed rule is anything but practical – it contains no defined guardrails to prevent unions, attorneys or other third parties from using the OSHA inspection process for their personal benefit,” the letter concludes.