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OSHA Rescinds Union Walkthrough Memorandum

Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has confirmed that an OSHA memorandum issued under the Obama Administration permitting union or community organization representatives to take part in OSHA workplace walkthroughs of nonunion employers has been formally rescinded.  
 
Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has confirmed that an OSHA memorandum issued under the Obama Administration permitting union or community organization representatives to take part in OSHA workplace walkthroughs of nonunion employers has been formally rescinded.  

That OSHA guidance memorandum, issued in 2013, interpreted Section 8(e) of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, which provides that “[s]ubject to the Secretary's regulations, a representative of the employer and a representative authorized by his employees shall be given an opportunity to accompany the Secretary or his authorized representative during the physical inspection of any workplace … for the purpose of aiding such inspection.”  Prior to the memorandum, OSHA had allowed only specialists such as industrial hygienists and safety engineers to accompany OSHA inspectors, and only when their presence was reasonably necessary.  

Even though OSHA's 2013 memorandum has been rescinded, this development should remind employers that unions may see alleged OSHA violations as a means of trying to secure a foothold in an employer facility.  Because employee concerns about OSHA can become both a reason and vehicle for union organizing, employers should have a plan for directing OSHA-type complaints through proper procedures, and incorporate safety and labor concerns when evaluating complaints.
 
For questions, contact Kevin McKenney, NDA Director of Government Affairs, at kmckenney@demolitionassociation.com.   

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