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Volks safety rule overturned

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A controversial U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule has been overturned after President Donald Trump signed a disapproval resolution on Monday. 

The president signed H.J. Res 83, a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act that targeted OSHA’s rule that aimed to clarify that employers have a continuing obligation to make and maintain an accurate record of each recordable injury and illness for five years. Last month, Congress adopted the resolution by a 50-48 margin in the Senate and a 231-191 margin in the House of Representatives. 

The rule, which became effective Jan. 18, was OSHA’s attempt to affirm a long-held agency stance that has been upheld by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission in cases dating back to 1993, but was rejected by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2012 in AKM L.L.C. v. Secretary of Labor (Volks). 

Now that the president has signed the joint resolution, the Volks rule cannot take effect and OSHA is prohibited from promulgating a rule “in substantially the same form,” Tressi Cordaro, a Washington-based shareholder at Jackson Lewis P.C., said in a blog post on Tuesday. 

“This means that OSHA is prohibited from issuing employers citations for failing to record injuries or illnesses beyond the six-month statute of limitations set out in the (Occupational Safety and Health Act),” she said. “While OSHA is prohibited from issuing citations beyond the six-month statute of limitations, employers are still required to maintain injury and illness records for five years.”

Employers should also continue to update their OSHA injury logs when new or additional information is discovered about the recordability of injuries during that five-year period, Ms. Cordaro said. 

But employers are likely to receive some relief from record-keeping fines now that the Volks rule has been vacated.