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OSHA to Push Back Recordkeeping Deadline

Friday, May 19, 2017

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration plans to postpone the filing deadline for its new electronic recordkeeping rule, which had been set at July 1 for many employers.

Department of Labor
Ed Brown, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration will not enforce a July 1 deadline for filing injury records electronically.

The agency updated its website Wednesday (May 17) to note that that it would be proposing an extension of the deadline, days after media reports noted that the website for submissions was still not live. OSHA has not issued an official press release on the matter as of Thursday, and did not specify a potential new filing deadline.

The website for the rule says that it will be updated as new information is made available.

About the Rule

The regulation, officially titled the Final Rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, was put into place in May 2016. It requires, among other provisions, that many employers submit workplace injury reports to OSHA electronically. The rule does not change the information that employers must keep, but changes the way they are required to report it.

OSHA has said that information on workplace injuries that is collected electronically will be made public, though no personally identifiable information about workers will be disclosed. The rule is the subject of a suit filed by a number of industry groups, including the Associated Builders and Contractors and the National Association of Manufacturers, which claim it jeopardizes privacy, is unfair to businesses and creates burdensome paperwork.

Workplace safety
© iStock.com / jerry2313

The new rule requires, among other provisions, that many employers submit workplace injury reports to OSHA electronically.

The judge in that case, Judge Sam Lindsay of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, ruled earlier this year that a preliminary injunction stopping the collection of information under the rule while the suit is ongoing was unnecessary. The suit will not be argued until after the July 1 date that had been established as a deadline for electronic records submission, so until Wednesday’s announcement, the filing deadline was still in play.

Other provisions of the rule took effect in December. These include anti-retaliation measures, aimed at preventing employers from instituting policies that might intimidate workers into concealing workplace injuries. One controversial provision bans the use of drug-testing for employees after a workplace accident unless drugs or alcohol are "likely to have contributed to the incident." Also included are provisions that ban incentives for certain periods of time without a workplace injury, which OSHA argues can lead to underreporting injuries.

Volks Rule Revival Attempt

Earlier this year Congress, with the signature of President Donald J. Trump, passed a resolution that negated the so-called Volks Rule, another recently introduced OSHA regulation that would have increased employer responsibilities with regard to injury recordkeeping. That rule would have extended the period during which OSHA could impose fines due to incorrect injury logs, from six months to five years.

While the rule was shot down by the resolution under the Congressional Review Act, a handful of Democratic members of Congress introduced a new bill on May 15 that would essentially reinstate the Volks Rule. The duty to maintain accurate injury records “does not expire solely because the employer fails to create the necessary records when first required to do so,” the bill reads.

Other Delays

A number of other new OSHA regulations promulgated during the final years of the Obama administration have also been delayed or cancelled since the inauguration of President Trump.

The effective date of the new rule regarding workplace exposure to beryllium, which affects workers in some abrasive blasting operations, was pushed back to May 20. An OSHA representative did not immediately respond to a request for information on the status of that rule Thursday (May 18). The first compliance date for that rule remains March 12, 2018, right now.

   

Tagged categories: Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. (ABC); Government; Health and safety; OSHA; President Trump; Regulations

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