Committee Requests Information on Troubling New OSHA Joint Employer Proposal

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WASHINGTON, D.C., October 14, 2015 | comments
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Workforce Protections Subcommittee Chairman Tim Walberg (R-MI) have asked the Department of Labor (DOL) to provide information on the proposed enforcement of a new “multiemployer citation standard” at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The effort would blur the lines of responsibility for certain workplace safety and health violations and mirrors a recent National Labor Relations Board effort to benefit union leaders by expanding its joint employer standard.
 
In a letter to Secretary Thomas Perez, the chairmen wrote:

 

OSHA already has a robust multiemployer citation policy. In undertaking determinations of whether a franchisor shares liability for the actions of its franchisees, OSHA inspectors are directed to consider who has control, responsibility, or the ability to expose a worker to a hazard on a worksite. The department has not put forward any evidence to demonstrate the current multiemployer standard is not sufficient to hold accountable those who jeopardize employee health and safety.
 

Noting that the proposed change has “alarmed employers and other stakeholders,” the letter also raises concerns related to the transparency and scope of DOL’s move:
 

Now, without any public notice or warning, the Solicitor’s memorandum would instruct OSHA inspectors to delve into unrelated matters – financial and otherwise – far outside their expertise. Drifting further from the agency’s core mission, inspectors would have to consider “brand standards,” menu and product creation, and the use of specific computer systems. Inspectors would consider these and other questions that move far beyond the “safety control” factors OSHA currently considers before issuing a multiemployer citation.
 

After sending the letter to the department, Chairmen Kline and Walberg issued the following joint statement:
 

OSHA plays an important role in keeping hardworking men and women safe on the job. This proposal would force safety inspectors to spend time and resources on tasks that fall outside their area of expertise when they should be focused on worker health and safety. We look forward to hearing from the department to ensure the safety of American workers remains its priority.
 

The chairmen have asked for a response by October 27, 2015.
 
The full letter is available here.
 

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