Legislation Recordkeeping

Democrats introduce bill to restore ‘Volks’ recordkeeping rule

US Capitol

Photo: uschools/iStockphoto

Washington – Five members of Congress on May 15 introduced a bill that would reinstate OSHA’s so-called “Volks” rule, a previously overturned law that addressed employers’ “ongoing obligation” to make and maintain accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses.

The move comes after President Donald Trump on April 4 signed into law a Congressional Review Act resolution (H.J. Resolution 83) to repeal the “Volks” rule.

The rule, which stemmed from a legal case involving Volks Constructors, was published Dec. 19, before the Trump administration took office. It allowed OSHA to issue citations anytime during the five-year period employers are required to keep injury and illness records instead of within six months after an incident occurred.

The Accurate Workplace Injury and Illness Records Restoration Act would:

  • Amend the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s six-month statute of limitations, beginning the six-month countdown from the date OSHA identifies a continuing violation rather than the first date a violation occurs
  • Require OSHA to issue a new regulation within 180 days of enactment clarifying the employer’s ongoing obligation to make and maintain accurate injury and illness records; the duty applies even if an employer does not create records when first required
  • Allow OSHA to issue citations for cases in which recordkeeping requirement violations persist longer than six months after an injury should have been recorded
  • Provide specific authorization for the rule in accordance with the Congressional Review Act

The legislation was co-sponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Patty Murray (D-WA); and Reps. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Mark Takano (D-CA).

“This legislation would reinstate recordkeeping requirements that protect workers from being hurt on the job,” Blumenthal said in a May 15 press release. “It imposes no new costs on employers – in fact, it may increase savings because injuries are bad for business and cost time and money. Responsible employers want safe workplaces. It’s really that simple.”

Several organizations applauded the legislation, including the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health and the National Employment Law Project.

“Tens of thousands of Americans die every year from preventable illnesses and injuries in the workplace, and millions more are hurt on the job,” Marcy Goldstein Gelb, National COSH co-executive director, said in a May 15 press release. “If we let employers get away with failing to report safety problems, we’re putting workers at risk. It’s also unfair to responsible companies who keep accurate records; they deserve a level playing field.”

Christine Owens, NELP executive director, agreed.

“The Accurate Workplace Injury and Illness Restoration Act is critical to ensuring the health and safety of workers in hazardous jobs,” Owens said in a May 15 press release. “This legislation will restore OSHA’s ability to sanction larger employers in the most dangerous industries for hiding serious workplace injuries and keeping false records.”

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