Federal agencies Recordkeeping

OSHA issues final rule to clarify ‘ongoing obligation’ for recording work-related illnesses and injuries

Photo: Ridofranz/iStockphoto

Washington – OSHA has released a final rule to help clarify for employers their “ongoing obligation” to make and maintain accurate records of work-related recordable injuries and illnesses.

The agency explains that the rule, published in the Dec. 19 Federal Register, does not add new requirements for compliance or recordkeeping of injuries or illnesses for which records are not already mandated.

Employers’ responsibility to maintain accurate injury and illness records does not go away if they fail to record the incident when first required to do so, the rule states.

The rule’s amendments, which include changes to the text of provisions and titles of sections and subparts, are in response to a 2012 case in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that OSHA citations for recordkeeping violations must be issued within six months of an alleged failure to record the injury or illness. The ruling overturned OSHA’s stance that the agency had five-and-a-half years to issue such a citation – five years covering the time period in which the injury’s record must be maintained, plus a six-month statute of limitations.

The agency agreed that “the continuing nature” of its obligations for employer recordkeeping were unclear, according to the rule.

“This rule simply returns us to the standard practice of the last 40 years,” OSHA administrator David Michaels said in a press release. “It is important to keep in mind that accurate records are not just paperwork; they have a valuable and potentially life-saving purpose.”

The final rule is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 18.

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