A new resolution passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would block OSHA’s Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness. The rule is referred to by the committee as the “Volks” rule because of the legal case that triggered the clarification.
According to an in-depth report from EHS Today, the House on March 1 passed H. J. Res 83, a resolution of disapproval, under the Congressional Review Act. It was introduced by Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), chairman of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections.
Republican House members claim the rule violates the policies of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) and fails to improve worker protections.
The OSH Act requires employers to record and maintain a log of workplace injuries and illnesses that occur during a five-year span. However, the law explicitly says that employers only can be cited for record-keeping violations that occurred within a six-month time period.
But in November 2006, OSHA issued a citation alleging that Volks Constructors failed – as long ago as 2002 – to record injuries on its Form 300 injury logs and to create Form 301 injury reports. Volks claimed that the citations were untimely because the OSH Act has a six-month statute of limitations, EHS Today reported.
OSHA at first argued to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission that it could prosecute Volks because the statute of limitations period did not start to run until OSHA knew or should have known of a violation. OSHA then claimed that the violations were “ongoing,” and therefore the citations were justified. The commission upheld OSHA’s continuing violation argument. Volks appealed.
On April 6, 2012, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously held that OSHA no longer could issue citations alleging that an employer failed, more than six months before, to record an employee injury on a log. In AKM LLC dba Volks Constructors v. Secretary of Labor, the court rejected OSHA’s position that such violations were “continuing.”