President Trump has signed into law House Joint Resolution 83, which repeals the “Volks Rule,” a U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule which imposed on employers certain continuing obligations to make and maintain accurate records of recordable injuries and illnesses. The rule previously became effective on January 18, 2017.
OSHA Recordkeeping Regulations
OSHA’s recordkeeping regulations require employers to record information about certain work-related injuries and illnesses on an OSHA 300 Log. Employers must enter each recordable injury or illness on the OSHA 300 Log, as well as on a supplementary OSHA 301 Incident Report, within 7 calendar days of receiving information that a recordable injury or illness has occurred. At the end of each calendar year, employers must create, certify, and post annual summaries of the cases listed on their 300 Logs for the prior calendar year. Generally, employers must retain their OSHA Logs, Incident Reports, and annual summaries for 5 years following the end of the calendar year that they cover.
If an employer initially fails to record a recordable injury or illness on the OSHA 300 Log or the corresponding OSHA 301 Incident Report, the employer still has an ongoing duty to record that case; as long as an employer fails to comply with the ongoing recording duty, there exists an ongoing violation of OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements. OSHA can cite employers for such recordkeeping violations for up to 6 months after the 5-year retention period expires.
‘Volks Rule’ Explained
OSHA’s “Volks Rule,” which became effective on January 18, 2017, amended OSHA’s recordkeeping regulations to state that:
- If an employer failed to record an injury or illness within 7 days, the obligation to record continued on past the 7th day, such that each successive day where the injury or illness remained unrecorded constituted a continuing “occurrence” of the ongoing violation.
- Under the rule, an employer could not avoid the five-year maintenance requirement by failing to make the record in the initial 7 days; rather, the obligation to make the record, for both the OSHA 300 Log as well as the OSHA 301 Incident Report, continued throughout the 5-year maintenance period even if the employer failed to meet its initial obligation.
‘Volks Rule’ Repealed
On April 3, 2017, President Trump signed into law House Joint Resolution 83 (H.J. Res. 83), which declares the “Volks Rule” to no longer have force or effect.
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