Earlier this year, we wrote about a very significant rulemaking to amend OSHA’s injury and illness recordkeeping regulations to require employers to proactively submit their injury logs and reports to OSHA on a regular and frequent basis. We understand OSHA is committed to implementing that rule before the Obama Administration shuts out the lights and hands over the keys. The data submission recordkeeping rule is not, however, the only effort underway by OSHA to reform its recordkeeping regulations.
In what is certain to land OSHA back in court, OSHA plans to soon roll out a rule that attempts to end-run around the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s decision that rejected the Agency’s historical doctrine that violations of OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping requirements continued each day an employer’s log remained incomplete or inaccurate, and declared instead that recordkeeping violations may only be cited within a strict six month statute of limitations. OSHA has attached the misleading name “Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness” to this rulemaking.
The driver behind OSHA’s proposed amendment to its injury and illness recordkeeping rule is not to clarify anything, but rather to attempt to undo the D.C. Circuit’s very clear 2012 decision in AKM LLC v. Secretary of Labor (aka the Volks Constructors case). In Volks Constructors, OSHA argued that every day the logs remain inaccurate, the employer commits a new violation, and extends the enforcement deadline. In other words, even though Congress set a six month statute of limitations for OSHA violations, OSHA believed the statute of limitations for injury and illness recordkeeping violations was five years plus six months due to the “continuing” nature of recordkeeping violations. Applying this expansive and flawed view of the statute of limitations historically gave OSHA wide latitude in recordkeeping enforcement. Continue reading