Federal Judge Advances Challenge to OSHA Inspection Memo

- According to a February 6 report from Insideoshaonline.com, a federal judge in Texas has advanced an industry law suit that challenges a 2013 memo from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The dispute mainly concerns language found in the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act that industry believes OSHA unfoundedly broadened in the 2013 memo. In the memo, OSHA stated that union officials, under the OSH Act, are allowed to accompany agency inspectors onto non-unionized work sites.

The court has backed industry procedural arguments, agreeing that the memo changes existing policy, though the U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Texas, Sidney Fitzwater, rejected the claim that the memo exceeds agency authority.

“The letter flatly contradicts a prior legislative rule as to whether the employee representative must himself be an employee,” Fitzwater said. “[T]he letter has already been used to expand the agency’s rights at the expense of regulated parties’ ability to exclude unwanted nonemployees.”

The industry plaintiffs are heralding this as an early victory in the coming legal battle, though, observers have noted that the suit may be short-lived if the business friendly Trump administration rescinds the memo altogether.

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