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OSHA’s Worker Walkaround Rule Is Imminent

08 May

Update Applicable to:Effective date
All employersMay 31, 2024

What happened?

On March 21, 2024, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) completed its review of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) “walkaround rule,” 29 C.F.R. 1903.8(c). The rule was published in the Federal Register on April 1, 2024.

What are the details?

  • The Worker Walkaround Rule, having successfully passed the EO 12866 regulatory review, is now unimpeded and its issuance is anticipated shortly.
  • The rule amends the Representatives of Employers and Employees regulation to clarify that the representative(s) authorized by employees may be an employee of the employer or a third party.
  • The rule, once finalized, will become effective 30 days after publication.
  • The rule permits third parties, who may not be associated with the workplace, to join a Certified Safety & Health Official (CSHO) during the inspection or facility walkaround, provided the CSHO deems their presence “reasonably necessary for an effective and thorough physical inspection of the workplace.” This change, while subtle, carries significant implications.
  • The rule also clarified that a third party may be reasonably necessary because of their relevant knowledge, skills, or experience with hazards or conditions in the workplace or similar workplaces, or language or communication skills.

Business Considerations

  • Both the employer and employees can designate a “walkaround” representative to accompany an OSHA inspector during an inspection. The determination of who is an appropriate non-employee representative is left to the sole discretion of the OSHA Compliance Officer.
  • The only limitation on the non-employee representative is that they are “reasonably necessary” to conduct an effective and thorough inspection as determined by the OSHA Compliance Officer.
  • Employers have no formal process to object if they disagree with the employee-designated representative.
  • Employers with an objection to the representative should raise their concerns with the OSHA Compliance Officer.
  • Employers are permitted to take steps such as requiring the employee representative to sign reasonable confidentiality agreements and limit the use of confidential information learned during the walkaround.
  • Time is essential since employers have only 2 months to update their policies and practices to be compliant.

Source References


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