The agency changed its policy on participation in OSHA walk-arounds in 2013. Up until that time, an employee representative could accompany the OSHA inspector on a walk-around only if that representative was actually employed at the site. Provisions were also made for third parties with special technical expertise to participate in the walk-around if the employee representative lacked that technical expertise.
But in 2013, OSHA eliminated the requirement that the employee representative actually work at the site. That opened the door to participation by representatives of a union trying to organize employees at the site.
The NFIB lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Texas, contends that a non-employee union representative “has a strong incentive to submit complaints to OSHA to trigger additional inspections and thereby provide the union representatives with access” to a company’s non-unionized employees.
“The walk-around rule has nothing to do with worker safety and everything to do with intimidating independent business owners,” said Karen Harned, executive director of NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center. “This is purely and simply a bully tactic on the part of the government for the benefit of unions.”