OSHA’s Proposed Changes to Authorized Employer Representatives
As a general contractor, you’re probably familiar with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA helps make workplaces safer by performing inspections and investigations. OSHA may come out to inspect a work site if there has been a report of unsafe practices. The agency may also come out and investigate a work environment after a workplace accident causes an injury or fatality.
OSHA recently announced proposed changes to the laws stating who can represent a company during a workplace inspection. This is called the Worker Walkaround Representative Designation Process and the proposed law was open for comments until October 30, 2023. OSHA was seeking public comment on the criteria and how OSHA should determine whether or not a third party can participate in an inspection. Now that the date has passed, it will be up to OSHA to decide how to proceed.
OSHA’s proposed changes would revise regulations regarding who can be authorized by employees to act as a company representative to accompany OSHA compliance officers during physical workplace inspections. The rule would allow employees to authorize a designated employee to serve as the representative. They may also authorize a non-employee third party, if that person is deemed reasonably necessary to conduct a thorough inspection. The third party does not have to be limited to someone who works in the safety realm, such as an industrial hygienist or safety engineer.
Third-party representatives may be reasonably necessary in some cases because they have skills, knowledge or experience that can assist the compliance officer with the inspection. This information may include knowledge of particular hazards or workplace conditions. This information can help OSHA gather the data it needs to make decisions.
The updated law allows for employees to be involved in the workplace, if they wish to do so.
This will hopefully make inspections more effective and ultimately make workplaces safer.
OSHA still has the authority to prevent someone from participating in the walkaround inspection if their conduct interferes with a fair inspection. The agency can also limit participation to protect employer trade secrets. Those things will not change under the proposed law.
Employees and representatives will still have their rights when it comes to reporting safety issues. Employees or representatives of employees who believe that a health or safety violation exists could pose a danger to employees may request an inspection. They should contact OSHA and inform them of the suspected violation or danger.
Laws Regarding OSHA Inspections
OSHA representatives have the right to enter a work site, such as a factory, plant, construction site, or other work environment, during business hours to inspect, in a reasonable manner, any of the following:
In addition, the OSHA representative may ask questions of any worker on the premises, including employers, owners, agents, operators, or employees.
Contact Us Today
When OSHA needs to inspect a work site, it can be a nerve-wracking situation. Having employee involvement can make the process easier and feel more like a team effort.
At Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A., our Florida construction lawyers understand the challenges of being a business owner as well as the complexities of the law. Schedule a consultation today by calling 561-626-8880 or filling out the online form.