NLRB and OSHA sign Memo of Understanding and pledge collaboration
In an unprecedented move, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) formalized a significant partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) effective October 31st.
The MOU emphasizes an extensive collaborative effort between the two distinct federal agencies to safeguard workers engaged in protected activities under labor laws and health/safety regulations. The accord pledges joint efforts for heightened information sharing, referrals, training, and outreach initiatives.
Under this five-year pact, the agencies will share information relating to their enforcement mandates. OSHA will refer potential victims of unfair labor practices to the NLRB if encountered during investigations, and vice versa. Employers now face increased scrutiny as the collaboration signifies expanded labor and safety enforcement measures.
Additionally, the MOU outlines reciprocal training initiatives between the agencies. NLRB personnel will receive training on OSHA standards, while OSHA officials will be educated on labor law nuances. The collaboration extends to public-facing outreach activities, including joint policy statements and resource development for safe workplaces.
Key takeaways for employers involve the need for labor law counsel involvement during OSHA investigations to navigate potential unfair labor practice charges. Notably, interagency coordination might result in dual-tracked investigations or litigation stemming from the same employee conduct.
The MOU's implications may widen if OSHA implements its proposed Worker Walkaround Representative Designation Process, enabling third-party representatives to join workplace inspections based on employee requests. Thus, proactive assessment and enhancement of safety programs become crucial for shielding against joint enforcement efforts.