House votes down last-minute OSHA rule, extending citation period
- House lawmakers voted to block a last-minute OSHA rule that would extend the period in which the agency may issue record-keeping citations from six months to five years, SHRM reports. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) put forth a resolution to block the OSHA rule under the Congressional Review Act.
- Byrne told SHRM that he’d rather see the agency invest time helping small and midsize businesses prevent workplace injuries than focus on issuing record-keeping citations. However, Rep. Joseph Courtney (D-CT) argued that employers who don’t keep proper records on workplace injuries and illnesses shouldn’t be rewarded with assistance for non-compliance, says SHRM.
- OSHA has always claimed the right to issue citations for violations at any time. But attorney Eric Conn, with D.C.-based Conn Maciel Carey, told SHRM Online that OSHA’s last-minute push to get the rule passed was an attempt to circumvent an earlier court ruling that reserved the agency’s authority to issue citations to six months.
The penalties employers could pay behind lawsuits for work-related accidents or injuries can be astronomical. Some claims could ruin small businesses financially.
Employers would do well to focus on maintaining a safe working environment and safe workplace practices, in addition to keeping proper reports on all incidents as required.
The Republican vote blocking the OSHA rule could be an indication of how GOP lawmakers and the Trump administration plan to handle agency rules and guidance going forward. The administration has vowed to roll back 75% of regulations on businesses, and these could include OSHA proposed rules.
Byrne criticized OSHA for not helping small and midsize businesses enough with compliance issues. However, OSHA offers online compliance assistance on its website, as do most state and federal governments.