OSHA Recordkeeping Rule

This rule clarifies that employers have a continuing obligation to maintain accurate records of serious workplace injuries and illnesses for up to five years.

This rule has been repealed.

H.J. Res. 83 is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.).
S.J. Res. 27 is sponsored by U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.).

OVERVIEW

Since 1972, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has protected American workers by requiring employers in higher hazard industries to maintain accurate records of serious work related injuries and illnesses.

Every administration in the last 45 years has enforced this requirement.  This is because OSHA has continued to find widespread under-reporting by many employers—which is masking serious injuries and hazards. But in 2012, a court decision overturned decades of precedent by making it impossible for OSHA to enforce against recordkeeping violations that are more than six months old. The clarifying rule that is the subject of the proposed resolution corrects that problem, which directly affects the safety of millions of workers.

IMPACTS

This resolution give license to employers to hide injuries, falsify injury records and willfully violate the law without any accountability. This will undermine safety and health and put workers in danger.

Some of OSHA’s largest fine cases were for keeping inaccurate injury records— trying to escape OSHA inspections. This includes a million dollar fine in 1987 against a meat processor that for years under-reported injuries so as to evade OSHA inspectors. OSHA’s inspections and fines resulted in serious improvement in this company’s safety program and in fact led to renewed attention to safety in the entire meat industry in the late 80’s, which resulted in saving lives, and preventing amputations and hospitalizations. Currently federal OSHA is only able to inspect workplace on average only once every 140 years. Without this rule, there will be no accurate data on workplace injuries, so employers who cut corners can endanger worker safety with impunity.

Without this rule, it will be impossible for OSHA to enforce recordkeeping requirements and assure that injury and illness records are accurate. In the absence of enforcement, there is no question that the under-reporting of injuries, already a widespread problem, will get much worse, undermining safety and health and putting workers in danger.

This rule was not controversial when it was passed. OSHA only received 27 comments—including comments from employers who supported OSHA’s clarifying rule.

OPPONENTS

The lobbyists who represent industry and corporate interests would like to mischaracterize this rule as another job killing government regulation. What they fail to tell is that this clarifying rule imposes no new added obligations or costs to employers and does not affect small businesses.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Associated Builders and Contractors

CONTACTS

Deborah Berkowitz, National Employment Law Project, dberkowitz@nelp.org, (202) 640-6519

NEWS AND RESOURCES

Alabama’s Workplaces Could Become More Dangerous After OSHA Repeal
AL.com: April 7, 2017

Trump Signs Bill Making It Easier for Employers to Hide Workplace Injuries
The Huffington Post: April 4, 2017

Trump Kills Second of Two Obama-Era Worker-Safety Rules
The Washington Post: April 4, 2017

Dent Still in Trump’s Corner Most of the Time
The Lehigh Valley Express Times: April 4, 2017

Worker Safety Takes Back Seat to Corporate Profits
The Teamsters: March 23, 2017

Republicans Just Made It Easier for Employers to Hide Workplace Injuries
The Huffington Post: March 22, 2017

Will Congress Turn Its Back on the Safety of America’s Workers?
EHS Today: March 22, 2017

Preventing Workplace Injuries Depends on Good Record-Keeping
Economic Policy Institute: March 22, 2017

Stand With Workers, Oppose Any Attempt to Repeal OSHA’s Injury Recordkeeping Rule
The Hill: March 21, 2017

Senate Shouldn’t Revoke Important Workplace Safety Rule
The Morning Sentinel: March 21, 2107

GOP Senate About to Allow Bad Employers to Avoid Reporting Workplace Injuries
The American Prospect: March 20, 2017

Congressional Rollback of Injury Log Requirement Would Endanger Workers
Forbes: March 20, 2017

Congress May Undo Rule That Pushes Firms to Keep Good Safety Records
NPR: March 20, 2017

Will Congress Turn Its Back on the Safety of America’s Workers?
Union of Concerned Scientists: March 16, 2017

76 Groups Oppose Repeal of OSHA’s Recordkeeping Rule
National Employment Law Center: March 13, 2017

Senate Votes to Kill Worker Safety Rule Aimed at Federal Contractors
The Washington Post: March 6, 2017

66 Labor, Civil Rights, Environmental Groups Tell Congress Not to Repeal Crucial Health and Safety Regulations
National Employment Law Project: February 27, 2017