OSHA Withdraws Controversial Expansion of “Walk-Around” Rule.


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has withdrawn a rule that effectively permitted union organizers to accompany OSHA compliance safety and health officers during a workplace inspection of a non-union workplace.

For decades, OSHA had interpreted the Occupational Safety and Health Act to permit an employee representative, who was in fact an employee, to “walk-around” with an OSHA officer. In addition, third-party specialists such as industrial hygienists or safety engineers were also permitted to participate when “reasonably necessary.” In 2013, however, OSHA issued the so-called “Fairfax Memo,” in which it asserted that the employee representative need not be an employee, and that the third-party specialist need only “make a positive contribution.” This, in effect, facilitated union access to non-union workplaces. This memo, however, has now been withdrawn in the context of a National Federation of Independent Business lawsuit challenging the rule.