On March 22, 2017, the Senate voted to kill an OSHA regulation that would enable employers to be cited for recordkeeping violations that occurred as long as five years ago. OSHA had created the rule to try to get around court decisions that limited OSHA’s ability to cite recordkeeping violations. In 2012, a unanimous federal court held that OSHA could only cite employers for recordkeeping failures if the violation occurred within six months of when OSHA discovered the violation. Rather than appeal the decision, OSHA issued a new regulation on Dec. 16, 2016.
The new OSHA rule – commonly referred to as the Volks rule – says a recordkeeping error can be cited for up to five years after the mistake was made because the employer continued to not correct its injury and illness logs. The Volks rule was attacked by businesses as an attempt by OSHA to avoid changing the law through Congress, instead issuing a new rule on its own. Moreover, the rule puts employers in a difficult position of having to remember why an injury or illness was not recorded many years ago.
On March 1, the House of Representatives passed a measure to eliminate the rule, and the Senate followed suit, voting along party lines. Now the resolution will head to the president, who is expected to sign it into law.