National COSH applauds OSHA’s final “walkaround rule,” effective May 1

Updated federal regulations improve safety by allowing workers to choose a representative during inspections

Leaders of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) said today that a final “walkaround rule,” announced today by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, will improve workplace safety and reduce on-the-job hazards, by giving workers the right to a representative of their choice during safety inspections.

“The recent tragedy in Baltimore is a terrible reminder about the thousands of U.S. workers, each year, who go to work but never come home,” said Jessica E. Martinez, co-executive director of National COSH. “Tens of thousands more die from long-term exposure to workplace hazards, and millions more become sick or injured. By giving workers a stronger voice in inspecting their workplaces and correcting preventable hazards, OSHA’s new walkaround rule can play an important role in reducing the risk of occupational illnesses, injuries and fatalities.”

The new OSHA rule, which goes into effect on May 1, specifies that workers can select a representative  with “knowledge or experience with hazards or conditions in the workplace or similar workplaces, or language or communication skills to ensure an effective and thorough inspection.”  Workers can select a representative of a COSH group, a workers’ center, a labor union, an attorney, an industrial hygienist or other person of their choosing to accompany an OSHA compliance officer and assist in gathering authentic information from workers.

“With a trusted worker representative onsite,” said Martinez, “safety inspections can more effectively capture the first-hand knowledge workers have about work processes and potential hazards. A representative selected by workers can also bridge language barriers and reduce the fear of retaliation, which is often a major barrier in gathering accurate information about workplace conditions”

From April 21 through 28, National COSH will join the global labor movement in observing Workers’ Memorial Week, in honor of workers who lose their lives on the job and those who become sick or injured at work.  As part of this observance, National COSH will release its annual list of the Dirty Dozen unsafe employers on Thursday, April 25th. Pre-registration for the Dirty Dozen release event is available at NationalCOSH.org 

 

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