OSHA’s Worker Walk Around Ruling

OSHA’s Worker Walk Around Final Rule goes into effect on May 31, 2024. The Occupational Safety and Health Act already gives both the employer and employees the right to authorize a representative to accompany OSHA officials during a workplace inspection. This rule clarifies that, as well as the fact that under the OSH-Act workers may authorize another employee or non-employee to serve as their representative. For a non-employee representative to accompany the inspector into a workplace, they must be reasonably necessary to the conduct of an effective and thorough inspection.

In our blog on Sept 2023 (Improving OSHA Workplace Inspections) we highlighted that the rule clarifies that third-party representatives are not limited to industrial hygienists or safety engineers, two examples included in the existing regulation. Third-party representatives may be reasonably necessary because they have skills, knowledge or experience that may help inform the compliance officer’s inspection. This information may include experience with particular hazards, workplace conditions, or language skills that can improve communications between OSHA representatives and workers. 

Employee participation has always been a key element of workplace safety and health programs, including inspections.  In fact, to improve health and safety at your workplace, this is essential to remember. Employees should be represented to ensure an effective assessment and third-party representation may be necessary to improve the process. Representation can be anyone the inspector, the employer, or an employee believes is reasonably necessary for conducting the inspection.

29 CFR 1903.8(c) is a regulation concerning employees’ statutory right to designate a walkaround representative during a physical inspection of a workplace. It is not a safety and health standard and does not impose any compliance obligations for employers. OSHA’s Worker Walkaround page as more information. 

That said, a few considerations to add to your OSHA Inspection procedures would be to have a liability waiver as well as a nondisclosure/confidentiality agreement for representatives to sign.

Use this regulatory change as an opportunity to review your OSHA Inspection Policies and Procedures and make any necessary revisions. Of course, conducting regular safety inspections and bringing in an outside perspective to audit will ensure your safety program is effective in preventing hazards.

 It is also important to remind the key stakeholders of their role in the OSHA inspection process as well as to ensure all employee are familiar with your procedures.  When an OSHA Inspector Knocks has additional information to consider for your procedures.

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