OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

February 19, 1986

Mr. Morris "Moe" Biller
General President
American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO
3rd Floor 817 14th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005

Dear Mr. Biller:

Your letter of January 28 requesting party status for exclusive representation in Federal sector Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proceedings is an issue that has been discussed for some time. We have, in the light of our meeting and your letter, discussed it again within the Labor Department.

However, nothing in either Executive Order 12196 or the basic program elements of 29 CFR Part 1960 compels, or even supports, an interpretation that Federal employee representatives, as a matter of right, must participate in all meetings at which there are discussions of hazard abatement. Indeed, the only requirements with respect to abatement are that, (1) where there are no safety and health committees, employee representatives be sent a copy of an abatement plan when abatement cannot be effected within thirty days: and (2) employee representatives be informed of interim protective measures being taken when abatement is not within the authority and resources of the official in charge of an establishment (29 CFR 1960.30).

I understand your position in this matter and I hope you will understand our reluctance to take the steps you suggest at this time. Rather than to argue about proceeding, I believe this is the time to concentrate on the substance of the hazard abatement. OSHA will continue its policy to keep employee representatives informed of the results of such meetings when agreement cannot be reached by management on representative's participation. Let me assure you that OSHA encourages maximum labor-management cooperation and communication in all aspects of safety and health in the Federal sector.

We appreciate your interest and concern for the safety and health of Federal employees.


Patrick R. Tyson
Acting Assistant Secretary