ILMA Newsroom

OSHA Issues Final Worker Walkaround Rule

OSHA Issues Final Worker Walkaround Rule

OSHA issued last Friday its final rule on the worker walkaround representative designation process. The rule allows third parties, including union officials and those with a potential agenda against an employer, to accompany OSHA inspectors on facility inspections, even in non-unionized workplaces. The rule is slated to take effect on May 31.

The controversial rule largely tracks last August’s proposed rulemaking and creates a number of implementation issues, including:

  • The rule does not restrict the number of representatives— such as union officials, community activists or other third parties—who may accompany the OSHA inspector. OSHA will be placed in the middle of labor disputes.
  • The rule does not contain restrictions on the conduct of non-employee third parties or what happens if the conduct disrupts operations. For example, there are no restrictions on the use of smartphones to take pictures or whether a third party can interact with employees or engage in union organizing activity, including soliciting employees or distributing material (e.g., union authorization cards).
  • The rule does not have a provision for verifying the qualifications of the non-employee, third-party representative to assess whether they are “necessary to the conduct of an effective and thorough inspection of the workplace.”
  • The rule does not address responsibility for the actions and safety of the third parties while they are on an employer’s premises.
  • The rule does not address safety training or who will pay for personal protective equipment (PPE) to be utilized by any non-employee third party.
“It’s disappointing that OSHA’s rule, rather than addressing workplace safety, instead facilitates union organizing by allowing them to participate in workplace inspections,” said ILMA CEO Holly Alfano.

“The misguided rule provides no clarity to OSHA safety and health officers on how these third-party representatives are to participate in the inspection.”

The final rule is expected to be challenged by employer groups in the courts, and ILMA is active with several coalitions working against the rule. The rule will be discussed during the SHERA Committee session at ILMA Engage, on Thursday, April 11 at 2:00p.m.