AGC Sues to Block OSHA ‘Walkaround’ Rule

AGC, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other business groups have filed a lawsuit in the Western District of Texas against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The suit challenges OSHA’s new “walkaround” rule, which forces contractors to let potentially anyone, regardless of safety training, construction experience, or intent to accompany a federal safety inspector on a jobsite.  AGC asks the court to declare the rule unlawful, vacate it, and stop OSHA from enforcing it.

AGC and its co-plaintiffs argue that this rule overturns over 50 years of precedent, which limited such walkarounds to employee representatives, with very limited exceptions.  AGC asserts that the new rule could compromise jobsite safety and conflict with project owners’ access rules.

On April 1, 2024, OSHA finalized changes to its walkaround rule, allowing employees to authorize more categories of individuals to serve as employee representatives and accompany OSHA inspectors during workplace inspections (amending regulations at 29 C.F.R. § 1903.8(c)). The new rule takes effect May 31 and expands the rights of third parties—including union representatives, community organizers, environmental activists, plaintiffs’ attorneys, and even competitors—to access employer worksites during OSHA inspections.

AGC and its Construction Industry Safety Coalition partners submitted comments on OSHA’s proposal, highlighting several concerns.  AGC pointed out the absence of a formal process for identifying employee representatives, which could leave employers uninformed and unable to dispute selections. There is also uncertainty about how compliance safety and health officers can verify the qualifications of these representatives. Furthermore, the presence of third-party representatives poses risks to the protection of confidential documents, trade secrets, and other sensitive information. And finally, the new rule raises worry about increased risk, costs, and liability – especially in high-risk environments like construction sites, where inexperienced individuals might gain access.

The full complaint can be viewed here.

AGC’s involvement in this case was made possible thanks to your contributions to the Construction Advocacy Fund

For more information, contact Kevin Cannon.

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