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Since then, Service Employees International Union representatives attempted to accompany OSHA inspectors on site visits in Houston.
So what should you do if OSHA arrives for an inspection at your nonunion worksite with a union representative in tow?
“When OSHA shows up with a union organizer or community activist, state that you will cooperate with OSHA, but need to understand why the third party needs to be involved,” said Melissa A. Bailey, a shareholder in the Washington, D.C., office of Ogletree Deakins.
Bailey said questions to ask could include:
Employers should take several preparatory steps before OSHA even shows up, Bailey said.
“Does the employer have a safety committee? If so, has that safety committee discussed who the employee representatives should be during an OSHA inspection?” she asked. Having an employee representative selected by the safety committee may blunt OSHA’s argument that employees have chosen a third-party representative. If there is a language issue, being able to offer a nonmanagement employee to translate may negate the need to involve a third party, she said.
Bailey advised that facility management be instructed to notify corporate officers as soon as OSHA appears for an inspection. If OSHA continues to insist on having the third-party representative participate, the employer may allow OSHA to inspect but refuse access to the third party. That is what happened in Houston. “It is important to make clear that the company is willing to let OSHA conduct the inspection as long as the third party does not participate,” she said.
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
Follow him @SHRMRoy
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