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April 8, 2024

OSHA Issues Final Rule Allowing Union Reps to Join Inspections

Over the objections of business and trade groups, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its final rule that allows third parties, including union organizers, to participate in safety inspections of job sites. The rule is effective March 31, 2024.

The rule amends OSHA’s Representatives of Employers and Employees regulation to clarify that the representatives authorized by employees may be an employee of the employer or a third party. OSHA claims that a third party may be necessary “because of their relevant knowledge, skills or experience with hazards or conditions in the workplace or similar workplaces, or language or communication skills.” However, business groups such as the Coalition for Workplace Safety (CWS) have noted that this would also allow employees to appoint union organizers as their representatives — even if the workplace is not part of a union.

“The rule will serve to distract OSHA from its core mission — ensuring safe and healthy workplaces — as a third party accompanying OSHA inspectors will be able to redirect attention to their own agendas,” CWS said in a statement. “The rule also will put OSHA inspectors in the middle of labor disputes and organizing drives and force them to police the behavior of these representatives who are pursuing their own goals. The rule is short on guidance for how to implement the changes and protect the inspection process. Moreover, it violates workers’ right to choose their own representation by allowing a single employee to choose representation for the entire workforce.”

The CWS’ comments were echoed by other business groups, including the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW). “In yet another instance of favoring big labor’s agenda, the Biden administration revived the failed Obama era policy under the guise of improving worker safety,” Brian Wild, chief government affairs officer at NAW, said. “This rule does nothing to improve workplace safety, instead it allows third-party individuals access to warehouses during OSHA inspections for potentially their own personal benefit, including union organizing, without any real safeguard for employers and employees.”


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