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Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Interpretive Letter Allowing Union Representatives to Participate in Inspections of Non-Union Facilities

OSHA has issued an interpretive letter that states an employer with a non-union workforce may nevertheless have to allow a union representative into its plant to accompany the OSHA compliance officer during an inspection. Imagine having to allow a representative from a union trying to organize your workforce to walk through your facility, participate in the settlement conference, contest abatement, and even file complaints. However, according to this new interpretive letter (February 21, 2013), if the employees designate a union representative to be their representative in the inspection, and if the OSHA inspector determines that the union representative would make a "positive contribution" to a thorough and effective inspection, the employer is required to allow the union representative to participate. OSHA withdrew a prior interpretation from 2003 to the contrary. 

It remains to be seen how MIOSHA will handle this issue. However, it is likely to arise. OSHA has given the inspector wide latitude to allow or disallow such employee representatives.

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About this Author

Richard R. Symons, labor and employment lawyer, Varnum
Partner

Rick is a member of Varnum's Labor and Employment Practice Team. He focuses on the defense of employers in workers’ compensation litigation, from managing contested cases in an aggressive and efficient manner to assessing cost-containment methods. He represents employers at all levels of the court system, including the Workers’ Compensation Appellate Court, the Michigan Court of Appeals, and Michigan Supreme Court.

Rick has handled multiple Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) inspections and appeals, including appeals of citations following a complaint,...

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