OSHA Rescinds Union Walk-around Letter

On April 25, 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) withdrew a February 2013 letter of interpretation (LOI) that permitted union representatives to accompany OSHA inspectors on walk-around inspections at non-union workplaces. Under a long-standing OSHA regulation, employees may authorize a non-employee representative to participate in an OSHA walk-around inspection, and OSHA has historically recognized that a labor union that is the certified representative of the employees at the inspection site could be an appropriate employee representative for such an inspection.

In 2013, OSHA issued an interpretation letter adopting the position that employees at a non-unionized facility could designate a union that was not their certified or recognized representative for collective bargaining purposes as their representative for an OSHA walk-around inspection. The LOI was revoked within the context of a legal challenge by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) asserting that such a significant change should go through a rulemaking.