WASHINGTON, D.C. | June 13, 2013 -
Dear Assistant Secretary Michaels:
On February 21, 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a letter of interpretation allowing Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHO or inspectors) to be accompanied by third-parties who are selected by employees of the company being inspected. Rescinding a previous letter of interpretation from March 7, 2003, referred to as the “Racic Letter,” the new interpretation is a dramatic change in OSHA practice. It raises questions as to the priorities of OSHA’s inspectorate and may create more confusion with respect to OSHA’s workplace inspections.
OSHA’s 2013 letter of interpretation is problematic in a number of respects. The letter fails to explain how or when employees are to select these third-party representatives. If OSHA were to seek employee representatives several days prior to an inspection, it could be construed as providing advance notice of such an inspection.
The letter of interpretation also fails to address the experience or qualifications required of third-parties who might be selected to accompany OSHA inspectors, which is in direct contrast to OSHA regulations suggesting third-parties who accompany inspectors should be safety engineers or industrial hygienists.
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