On March 1st, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to block the extension of an Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule that would have held employers liable for record-keeping violations from six months to five years.
OSHA has a rule that requires employers keep workplace logs for five years before disposing of them. The agency has long held that it has the authority to issue citations against any employer guilty of record-keeping violations with those logs – regardless of the age of the logs.
In 2012, Volks Constructors, a Louisiana construction company, challenged OSHA’s authority in these matters in court after it was cited for failing to keep timely records of workplace injuries. The court at the time ruled that OSHA did not, in fact, have the right to extend the statute of limitations and penalize late records to cover a five year period – saying any effort to do so went beyond the agency’s statutory authority.
Disregarding the Court’s 2012 decision, OSHA issued another rule in late 2016 (called the Volks Rule) requiring that employers note and keep records of workplace injuries for five years after they happen.
There is a little know federal law called the Congressional Review Act that gives the Congress a period of 60 days in which to overrule agency regulations with which it disagrees. Any resolution of disapproval must be signed by the President or if not signed overridden by a two-thirds vote of both congressional chambers.
Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala recently offered a proposal in the House of Representatives to block the new OSHA rule. His resolution passed the House by a 231-190 vote. The resolution now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Given that Republicans control both the Congress and the White House, it is believed this resolution will survive a vote in the Senate and be signed by President Trump.
The bottom-line for employers – if the effort of Republicans in Congress is successful, employers will not need to worry about citations on workplace record violations for matters that look back in time beyond six months.
If you’re an employer and confused about how various OSHA regulations apply to your workplace, consider calling on the attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale in Connecticut. We do one thing and one thing only – we are an employer defense law firm – in fact, we are one of the largest employer defense law firms in the region. What’s more, each of our attorneys have over 20 years of experience in employment law and labor law matters and can provide your business with comprehensive legal counsel ranging from assistance with necessary preventive measures to trial advocacy. Please contact us if we can help you.
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