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Senate moves to overturn Volks safety rule

Posted On: Mar. 23, 2017 8:58 AM CST

A controversial U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule is one step closer to being vacated after a disapproval resolution was adopted by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday. 

The Senate voted 50-48 to adopt H.J. Res 83, a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act that targets OSHA’s rule that clarifies that employers have a continuing obligation to make and maintain an accurate record of each recordable injury and illness for five years. 

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the resolution by a 231-191 earlier this month, and the Trump administration issued a statement of administration policy on Feb. 28 indicating its support. 

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)

OSHA stated that the rule was meant to clarify an existing obligation. 

“The final rule was more than merely an attempt to clarify an existing duty, it created a new one by undoing the holding in the Volks case,” Tressi Cordaro, a Washington-based shareholder at Jackson Lewis P.C., said in a blog post on Wednesday. 

Legal experts predicted Congress would use the Congressional Review Act to overturn the Volks rule, with employers likely receiving some relief from record-keeping fines if President Donald Trump signs the resolution as expected.