OSHA Withdraws Fairfax Memo, Employers Are No Longer Required to Allow Non-Employees to Accompany OSHA Investigators

Good news! OSHA has rescinded an interpretation letter commonly referred to as the “Fairfax Memo.” It has also removed a related guidance from OSHA’s Field Operations Manual.

The Fairfax Memo mandated that non-employees, aka union business agents, must be permitted to accompany OSHA during the walk-around portion of an inspection.  Examples mentioned in the memo of who could participate in the inspection included officials of labor organizations that did not represent the employer’s employees and “community organizers.”

OSHA’s rescission of this letter means that employers need not allow non-employees to be present during an OSHA walk-around.  To those of us who have disagreed with OSHA regarding this policy, this is a significant victory.

Employers should make their field safety and health managers aware of this change so that they are prepared the next time that an OSHA investigator knocks on their door.

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