March 31, 2024

U.S. Department Of Labor Finalizes New Walkaround Rule

The U.S. Department of Labor has announced a final regulation that would expand the list of people who can be authorized by employees to act as their representative during physical Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) workplace inspections. Connecting the Dots reported on this rule when it was proposed. That article is here.

Specifically, the final rule clarifies that a worker may authorize another employee (known as an “employee representative”) to represent them during these inspections — or, under certain circumstances, may select a non-employee. For a non-employee representative to accompany the OHSA compliance officer in a workplace, that person must have enough experience to be “reasonably” able to conduct an effective and thorough inspection.” This experience, the DOL said, “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.”

As the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW), which the Metals Service Center Institute is a member of, noted, despite the allowance of non-employee representatives, the rule does not provide clarity for how OSHA safety and health officers are supposed to determine if a chosen representative actually should be allowed to participate in the inspection. The DOL also gave no limit to the number of representatives who could participate in an inspection. As a result, “OSHA inspectors will be forced into a position to police these representatives’ behavior, which could include intentionally disrupting the workplace and instigating dysfunction,” the CDW said.

Meanwhile, the regulation does not require any specific qualifications for employee representatives who may act as designees.

Organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) said they opposed the final rule. Read the USCC’s statement here. Read NAM’s statement here.

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