DOL Proposed Rule Changes Regarding Authorized Employee Representation During Workplace Inspections
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a notice of proposed rulemaking to revise regulations. Moreover, who can be authorized by employees to act as their representative during OSHA physical workplace inspections.
The proposed rule clarifies that employees can authorize an employee or a non-employee third party for inspections. (if the compliance officer determines the third party is reasonably necessary to conduct an effective and thorough inspection)
The proposed changes also clarify that third-party representatives, not just industrial hygienists or safety engineers, can be included as examples in the existing regulation. Furthermore, compliance officers can receive valuable insights during inspections from third-party representatives with skills, knowledge, or experience. They may have experience with specific hazards, workplace conditions, or language skills that improve communication with workers.
“Congress considered worker participation a key element of workplace safety and health inspections when it passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act,” explained Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “This proposal aims to make inspections more effective and ultimately make workplaces safer by increasing opportunities for employees to be represented in the inspection process.”
Seeking Public Comment
In addition to the NPRM’s proposed revisions, OSHA is also seeking public comment on the criteria and degree of deference OSHA should give to employees’ choice of representative in determining whether a third party can participate in an inspection.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act gives the employer and employees the right to have a representative authorized by them accompany OSHA officials during a workplace inspection to aid the investigation. Employee participation and representation is critical to an inspector’s ability to complete a thorough and effective workplace investigation and helps OSHA gather information about the job site’s conditions and hazards.
The proposed revisions uphold OSHA compliance officers’ authority to determine if an individual is authorized by employees. Additionally, they can limit participation in walkaround inspections to address interfering conduct or protect trade secrets.
More Info on the Topic of Authorized Employee Representation During Workplace Inspections
Submit comments at Regulations.gov, the federal eRulemaking portal by Oct. 30, 2023. Include Docket Number OSHA-2023-0008 on all submissions. Read the Federal Register notice for more information.