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OSHA affirms injury record requirements

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The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration will issue a final rule on Monday to clarify that employers have a continuing obligation to make and maintain an accurate record of each recordable injury and illness for five years. 

The final rule, which would become effective Jan. 18, is 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)

The court slapped down the agency’s attempt to cite and fine Volks Constructors for failing to properly record certain workplace injuries and maintain its injury log more than six months after the last unrecorded injury occurred — a decision welcomed by employer representatives. 

“This rule simply returns us to the standard practice of the last 40 years,” Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels said in a statement on Friday. “It is important to keep in mind that accurate records are not just paperwork; they have a valuable and potentially life-saving purpose.”

The amendments in the final rule add no new compliance obligations and do not require employers to make records of any injuries or illnesses for which records are not already required, according to OSHA.