HR Policy Association

HR Policy to OSHA: Scrap Rule Permitting Union Reps to Join Inspections

The Association submitted comments individually, and as part of a coalition, in opposition to an OSHA proposed rule that would allow unlimited union representatives to accompany OSHA inspectors on site visits. 

Background: OSHA issued a Proposed Rule earlier this fall that would allow workers to designate representatives – including union officials, whether or not employees are unionized – to accompany OSHA inspectors during site inspections of employer facilities. Such inspections are nominally for the purpose of ensuring employer compliance with workplace safety standards. 

HR Policy’s comments urged OSHA to scrap the rule on the basis that it provides no justifications for how the rule is meant to improve or ensure workplace safety, presents several workplace safety issues for employers, and provides no limits on the number, type, or conduct of representatives that can accompany OSHA inspectors. Specifically, the Association argued that:

  • The Proposed Rule jeopardizes workplace safety by allowing unlimited third-party access to facilities with zero ability for employers to determine which third parties may visit their sites. 

  • The Proposed Rule does not limit the number of representatives that employees may request. It also does not require meaningful qualifications (or safety training) of such representatives, or limit their conduct during inspections. 

  • The Proposed Rule jeopardizes employer trade secrets and proprietary information, as it does not allow the employer to prohibit third parties from documenting what they observe during a site visit. 

  • The Proposed Rule is a clear attempt to increase union access to employer property under the guise of workplace safety. 

Outlook: A final rule is likely to be issued sometime next year. Given significant opposition from the business community, a legal challenge is likely. The Proposed Rule is the latest clear example of the Biden administration’s willingness to use all levers of executive authority to tip the scales in favor of unions.

Published on:

Authors: Gregory Hoff