National COSH Champions New OSHA Rule for Worker-Led Safety Inspections

National COSH Champions New OSHA Rule for Worker-Led Safety Inspections

OSHA’s new rule allows external individuals to accompany agents during safety inspections.

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) has publicly voiced its support for a new OSHA rule allowing workers to select their own representatives during safety inspections. The rule goes into effect on May 1, 2024.

“The recent tragedy in Baltimore is a terrible reminder about the thousands of U.S. workers, each year, who go to work but never come home,” National COSH Co-Executive Director Jessica E. Martinez said in a statement. “Tens of thousands more die from long-term exposure to workplace hazards, and millions more become sick or injured. By giving workers a stronger voice in inspecting their workplaces and correcting preventable hazards, OSHA’s new walkaround rule can play an important role in reducing the risk of occupational illnesses, injuries and fatalities.”

The rule empowers workers to choose a representative with specific knowledge or experience related to workplace hazards or with the necessary language or communication skills to conduct a thorough inspection. This may include individuals from COSH groups, labor unions, legal professionals or industrial hygienists.

“Years ago, I was actually told by a manager to block our store’s fire exits, which I knew was extremely dangerous — but back then, I didn’t know who I could talk to or who I could trust,” David Williams, worker leader with Step Up Louisiana and National COSH who testified in support of the OSHA rule before the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB). “I’m no longer afraid, but a lot of people are. Having someone with you who you trust during an OSHA inspection, it will help tremendously.”

In conjunction with the announcement of the new rule, National COSH is gearing up to participate in Workers’ Memorial Week from April 21 through 28. This annual observance honors the memory of workers who have lost their lives on the job, as well as those who have suffered injuries or illnesses due to workplace conditions.

About the Author

Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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