DOL Increases Union Reach in OSHA Inspections

June 26, 2013

pic-employees-smDeputy Assistant Secretary of Labor Richard E. Fairfax has issued an interpretation letter, released in April, that determines that employees at a non-union workplace may designate union officials or community organizers as their representatives during OSHA inspections.

The letter poses two questions and answers them in the affirmative:

Question # 1 – May one or more workers designate a person who is affiliated with a union without a collective bargaining agreement at their workplace or with a community organization to act as their “personal representative” for OSH Act purposes?

Yes.

Question # 2 — 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?

Yes.

The federal regulation being interpreted is29 C.F.R. § 903.8(c) which reads:

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.

NSBA does not regard the interpretation letter as consistent with the regulation allegedly being interpreted.

To read the OSHA interpretation letter, click here.