Groups Seek Changes in OSHRC Procedures

Their petition seeks an expanded definition of "affected employee" and clarification that an employee may designate any person as his or her representative.

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) and allied organizations recently filed a petition before the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC), calling for more worker and public participation in the commission's proceedings. The petition lists three changes it seeks:

  • Expand OSHRC's definition of "affected employee," saying the definition is too narrow because multi-employer work sites and the use of contract, leased, or temporary employees are increasingly common in many industries, not just construction.
  • Clarify that an employee may designate any person as his or her representative.
  • Narrow the scope of confidentiality during settlement proceedings.

"Workers know best how to prevent the hazards that cause injuries, illnesses, and death on the job," said Mary Vogel, executive director of National COSH. "To make sure our workplaces are safer, workers' voices must be heard loud and clear. And we need to shine as much light as possible on what is too often hidden from view – the unsafe practices that put workers at unnecessary risk on every shift, day and night, every day of the week."

"For 44 years, the OSH Act has explicitly given workers the clear right to be involved when employers appeal OSHA citations," said Eric Frumin, Health and Safety director for the labor union coalition Change to Win. "As conditions change and employers try to narrow worker participation, the commission must keep its rules current and preserve this fundamental right."

"When employees appear before the Review Commission, they should get a fair shake and be full participants," said Randy Rabinowitz, co-director of the Occupational Safety and Health Law Project, who signed the petition.

National COSH reported that OSHRC is currently considering revisions to its procedural rules. National COSH joined North America's Building Trades Unions, Change to Win, and the United Steelworkers in backing the petition.

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