Congress nullifies OSHA recordkeeping rule

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Rep. Bradley Byrne
Rep. Bradley Byrne

The House of Representatives and Senate have passed a joint resolution to nullify an Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule that allowed the agency to cite employers that do not make and maintain accurate records of employee injuries and illnesses for up to six months after the five-year record-retention period expires.

The Trump administration has indicated that it supports the resolution, which was introduced by Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL).

The rule, issued Dec. 19, became effective Jan. 18. It was an amendment to OSHA's recordkeeping regulations, and OSHA previously described it as a clarification of employers' obligations that did not require employers to keep any new records of injuries or illnesses for which records are not already required.

Byrne called the rule an “unlawful power grab” that created regulatory confusion for small businesses. “We should be focused on proactive policies that help improve workplace safety instead of punitive rules that do nothing to make American workers safer,” he said.

OSHA long maintained that employers have a duty to record an injury or illness continues for five years after the end of the calendar year in which the injury or illness became recordable, according to the text of the rule. “This means that if an employer initially fails to record a recordable injury or illness, the employer still has an ongoing duty to record that case; the recording obligation does not expire simply because the employer failed to record the case when it was first required to do so,” the rule stated.

H.J. 83 nullifying the rule was passed by the House on March 1 by a 231-191 vote, primarily along party lines. It was passed by the Senate March 22 in a 50-48 vote, strictly along party lines, with Republicans approving the measure and Democrats and independents voting against it.

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