OSHA finally issued its long-awaited worker walkaround rule this morning. Issuance of this regulation is one of the most important worker regulatory achievements of the Biden Administration.

The rule clarifies how workers can choose their walk-around representatives during OSHA inspections.

Choosing someone to walk around with OSHA inspectors during an inspection is one of the most important rights that workers have under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

But in practice, the right has largely been limited to those workers with union representation, and mostly to workers who actually work in the inspected workplace.

Where there is no walkaround representative, the law directs OSHA inspectors only to “consult with a reasonable number of employees concerning matters of health and safety in the workplace.”

This regulation will allow non-union workers to choose their walkaround reps –inside the workplace, or from outside — from a workers rights group, a union, or safety, industrial hygiene or toxicology experts.

A non-union representative may accompany the OSHA inspector as long as the

non-employee representative may be reasonably necessary based upon skills, knowledge or experience. This experience may include knowledge or experience with hazards or conditions in the workplace or similar workplaces, or language or communication skills to ensure an effective and thorough inspection.

The rule has faced fierce opposition from the business community which has falsely accused OSHA of changing OSHA’s traditional practice in order to help unions organize non-union workplaces.

According to OSHA,

The final rule clarifies that, consistent with the law, workers may authorize another employee to serve as their representative or select a non-employee. For a non-employee representative to accompany the compliance officer in a workplace, they must be reasonably necessary to conduct an effective and thorough inspection.

The rule was issued ahead of the expectes deadline that would allow Congress and the President to repeal the rule under the Congressional Review Act, should Republicans take both Houser of Congress and the Presodency in November.

Worker involvement in the inspection process is essential for thorough and effective inspections and making workplaces safer,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “The Occupational Safety and Health Act gives employers and employees equal opportunity for choosing representation during the OSHA inspection process, and this rule returns us to the fair, balanced approach Congress intended.”

3 thoughts on “Breaking: OSHA Issues Worker Walkaround Rule”
  1. There has been a right for miners to have a “representative of miners” ( a “walkaround”) accompany federal mine inspectors under the Federal Mine Safety & Health Act of 1977 for decades. Any two miners at a mine can designate anyone to be their miners’ rep (there is no requirement that the mines’ rep be necessary for an inspection or that he/she possess any specific knowledge of mining). This walkaround right has also has been used primarily at union mines, and when miners at non-union mines are designated as a miners’ rep, more often than not they are subjected to harassment. Wes Addington & I have represented numerous miners’ reps in discrimination cases under the Mine Act.

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