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Rollback of recordkeeping rule could have devastating results, former OSHA head says

Congress pushes to overturn employers’ “ongoing obligation” to keep injury and illness records

Posted March 23, 2017

According to former OSHA leader Dr. David Michaels, a Congressional rollback of a 2016 OSHA recordkeeping rule could have devastating impacts on worker safety and health.

In early March, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.J. Res. 83 disapproving the OSHA rule clarifying an employer’s continuing obligation to make and maintain accurate injury and illness records. The Senate is set to vote on a similar resolution soon.

The rule, a move the agency took in response to a court decision, codified the agency’s long-standing policy that injury and illness recordkeeping violations are “ongoing” violations that could be cited within a 6-month window of time from an inspector first discovering them. (The court ruling said that the 6-month period began when the violation actually occurred, not when OSHA learned of the violation.)

Dr. Michaels said, “The 2012 Court decision had an immediate impact on OSHA inspections: citations for recordkeeping violations dropped 75%. In the past, some of OSHA’s most impactful cases came from the identification of deliberate pattern of recordkeeping violations: high hazard companies that had hidden injuries for years or even kept two sets of books. These violations identified serious workplace hazards leading to important improvements that prevented many subsequent injuries.”

Workplace Safety AdvisorJ. J. Keller's Workplace Safety Advisor covers important topics, including: hazard communication, OSHA Inspections, recordkeeping requirements, bloodborne pathogens, and lockout/tagout.


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