The Department of Labor announced a “new” rule expressly allowing employees to authorize any representative–including union representatives and outside attorneys, amongst others–to represent them and accompany OSHA officers during OSHA inspections. This rule, set to take effect on May 31, 2024, provides another tool that could be used to foster unionization in non-union workplaces.

Businesses must now be aware that what may appear to be a routine safety inspection could turn into a strategic unionization effort. Specifically, unions may use this tool to access organizations they are attempting to unionize by making safety complaints to OSHA and then serving as the employee representative in the resulting inspection.

Key Takeaways:

  • Beware of unions using OSHA inspections as a pretext to gain entry and influence within non-unionized businesses and
  • Plan for and implement strategies to effectively manage OSHA inspections, ensuring OSHA has a legitimate basis for an inspection before allowing the inspection to continue, and mitigate the impact of potentially manipulative union activities during inspections.