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Senate Votes to Overturn OSHA Recordkeeping Rule

On March 23, the United States Senate by a vote of 50-48 adopted H.J. Res 83.  This vote overturns OSHA’s rule “Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain Accurate Records of Each Recordable Injury and Illness,” informally known as the “Volks” rule (named for a case involving Volks Constructors). The U.S. House of Representatives approved the resolution by a 231-191 at the beginning of this month. Congress was given the power to adopt these resolutions under the Congressional Review Act.  Under this Act, Congress may pass a resolution to prevent a federal agency (in this case OSHA) from implementing a rule.

Employers have long been required to maintain records of work-related injuries and illnesses for a 5 year period.  Under the original rule, OSHA was allowed to issue citations to employers for failing to adhere to these recordkeeping requirements if the violation(s) occurred within a 6 month period.  The recently overturned “Volks” rule (put in place by OSHA in January 2017) extended that time period to allow citations to be issued up to five and a half years after violations allegedly occurred.

Advocates of the “Volks” rule believe that ongoing recordkeeping is an essential part of implementing safe workplace standards and strategies by referring to the records of illnesses and injuries and taking steps to correct there causes.  The critics of the rule believe it was unnecessarily burdensome on employers and is a rule that only appears to be pro-safety on its face because it merely exposes information about injuries and illnesses and does nothing for improving safety within workplaces.

The final step of this legislation is to head to the desk of President Trump for signature. The President is expected to sign.