Petition to Amend OSHRC Rules Filed
OHSonline reported yesterday that The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) and allied organizations filed a petition before OSHRC that calls for more worker and public participation in the commission’s proceedings.
“The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission [OSHRC] is an independent federal agency, providing administrative trial and appellate review, created to decide contests of citations or penalties resulting from OSHA inspections of American work places. The Review Commission functions as a two-tiered administrative court, with established procedures for (1) conducting hearings, receiving evidence and rendering decisions by its Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) and (2) discretionary review of ALJ decisions by a panel of Commissioners.” Source: OSHRC.gov: Current as of 02/02/2015 The purpose of this Commission is to provide adjudication for disputes between employers and the department of labor.
The petition focuses on three changes, the main being to expand OSHRC’s definition of an “affected employee”. This stems from many industries increased use of contractual employees, including leased or temporary employees. Additionally, the petition asks for clarification of the terms with which an employee may call for a designee as his or her representative and it wants the scope of confidentiality during settlement proceedings narrowed.
The Petition to Amend OSHRC’s Procedural Rules states the definition of the “Affected Employee” is too narrow and that, “Workers may be affected by exposures created or controlled by a cited employer, even if they are not directly employed by the cited employer [and that] multi-employer worksites are increasingly present in industries other than construction.” Additionally, the petition notes that employees should have the right to select a person of their choice as their representative and said person should have autonomy to act on behalf of the employee. The petition furthers that “too often, however, OSHRC judges have expressed skepticism, if not downright hostility, to the individuals who have sought to represent workers before OSHRC or have imposed unreasonable limits on a representative’s participation in Commission proceedings. . . Unfortunately, OSHRC judges do not consistently follow these principles. Even when they do, some judges have imposed restrictions on employee representatives that are not imposed on employer representatives, treating the employee representatives as less than full participants in Commission proceedings.”
The last criteria the petition addresses is for OSHRC to narrow the scope of confidentiality during settlement proceedings, stating that “the process of employees acting in their joint interest to improve working conditions should not be held in abeyance because of ongoing settlement discussions before the Commission.”