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Union Reps Could Join Non-Union Workplace Safety Inspections Under OSHA Rule

A proposed OSHA rule, expected in May 2023, is expected to allow workers to specify a union representative to accompany an OSHA inspector during an inspection if, in the judgment of the OSHA inspector, the person is “reasonably necessary” for a thorough inspection.

Relaunch of Obama-era policy: OSHA originally adopted the policy in 2013 via an interpretation letter, but it was withdrawn during a pending legal challenge in 2017.

The 2013 interpretation letter said, contingent upon approval by an OSHA inspector, “a person affiliated with a union” or “a community representative” can act on behalf of employees during an inspection so long as the individual is authorized by employees to be their representative. The letter was challenged in court because it was not implemented via rulemaking.   

Outlook: The proposed rule, published in the recently-released fall regulatory agenda, is expected to be published May 2023, but could be delayed because of other regulatory priorities.   A final rule may not be published until 2024, and it will likely be challenged in court.

Published on: January 20, 2023

Authors: D. Mark Wilson

Topics: Employment Law

D. Mark Wilson

President and CEO, American Health Policy Institute

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