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NLRB and OSHA Announce New MOU to Strengthen Health and Safety Protections for Workers

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Today, National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Jennifer A. Abruzzo and Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at the U.S. Department of Labor Douglas L. Parker executed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen the agencies’ partnership to promote safe and healthy workplaces through protecting worker voice. 

Because many worker efforts to improve safety and health in their workplaces are protected under both the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSH Act) and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the NLRB and OSHA have historically engaged in cooperative efforts and have entered into formal Memoranda of Understandings to engage in interagency coordination since 1975. 

Today’s agreement expands on the historic interagency coordination by enabling the NLRB and OSHA to closely collaborate by more broadly sharing information, conducting cross-training for staff at each agency, partnering on investigative efforts within each agency’s authority, and enforcing anti-retaliation provisions. 

The agencies also released a resource on “Building Safe & Healthy Workplaces by Promoting Worker Voice” which provides tools and key references for employers and workers on working collaboratively to create and maintain safe workplaces, including resources on collective bargaining and compliance. 

“Workplace safety can be a matter of life and death for workers and so the ability to report workplace hazards without fear of retaliation is critically important,” said General Counsel Abruzzo. “Today’s MOU will bolster protections for workers to speak out about unsafe working conditions by strengthening coordination between OSHA and the NLRB on our enforcement efforts.”

“Everyone should be able to exercise their legal rights in the workplace without fear of losing their job or other forms of punishment,” explained Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “This partnership with the National Labor Relations Board will expand both of our agencies’ impact and effectiveness in protecting workers who raise concerns about workplace violations or retaliation.”

The MOU is part of the NLRB General Counsel’s interagency coordination initiative to take a whole of government approach to enforcement. As part of the initiative, the NLRB is working closely with worker protection and consumer protection agencies to ensure that the government is coacting and co-enforcing all related laws in the most effective and efficient way, which will ensure workers are fully protected while minimizing employers’ compliance burdens. 

Established in 1935, the National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that protects employees from unfair labor practices and protects the right of private sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve wages, benefits and working conditions. The NLRB conducts hundreds of workplace elections and investigates thousands of unfair labor practice charges each year.