DOL Proposes Rule Changes for Authorized Representation in OSHA Inspections

DOL Proposes Rule Changes for Authorized Representation in OSHA Inspections

The agency is seeking public comment until October 30

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced a notice of proposed rulemaking to revise regulations regarding authorized employee representation during workplace inspections conducted by OSHA compliance officers.

According to a release dated August 29, the proposed rule aims to clarify that employees can authorize another employee—or a non-employee third party—to accompany OSHA compliance officers during physical workplace inspections. However, the compliance officer must determine the third party is reasonably necessary to conduct an effective and thorough inspection.

The proposed rule also specifies that third-party representatives are not restricted to industrial hygienists or safety engineers, as the current rule states. Instead, third-party representatives may be deemed reasonably necessary due to their skills, knowledge or experience. These can inform the compliance officer’s inspection or even improve communications between OSHA representatives and workers.

“Congress considered worker participation a key element of workplace safety and health inspections when it passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act,” OSHA Assistant Secretary Doug Parker said in a statement. “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.”

The proposed revisions maintain existing regulations that allow OSHA compliance officers to determine if an individual is authorized by employees and to prevent someone from participating in the inspection if their conduct interferes with a fair and orderly inspection or to limit participation to protect employer trade secrets.

OSHA is currently accepting public comment on proposed rule changes. Comments can be submitted at Regulations.gov, the federal eRulemaking portal, by October 30, 2023, and submissions must include Docket Number OSHA-2023-0008.

About the Author

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

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