VOLKS RULE REPEALED

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JRuzan
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Just months after it went into effect, President Donald Trump signed a repeal of the controversial “Volks” rule on April 3. This finalized the Congressional Review Act’s (CRA) resolution and invalidated what OSHA called, “Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain Accurate Records of Each Recordable Injury and Illness,” otherwise known as the “Volks” rule.

In March, The Senate voted 50-48 and the House 231-191 to repeal the rule. The rule was meant to extend the statute of limitations on OSHA’s ability to issue citations to employers who failed to record an injury or illness from six months to five years. It was OSHA’s attempt to skirt around a court decision made in 2012 after OSHA issued citations to AKM-Volks Constructors in 2006 for record violations occurring as far back as 2002. The court ultimately decided that five years was a gross abuse of power, and unwarranted due to the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act’s well-established six-month statute of limitations. It believed that allowing OSHA to cite violations five years after the fact would set a dangerous precedent in how the agency could continuously reinterpret current standards.

OSHA’s primary argument was that if an employer fails to record a recordable injury or illness in the required forms, the action of that failure is not a single offense. According to the agency, each day that passes with the injury or illness unrecorded constitutes an ongoing violation, since the requirement isn’t nullified just because the employer missed the recording deadline.

Because this reversal was enacted by the CRA, OSHA is now prohibited from submitting a rule “in substantially the same form” as the Volks rule.

It’s important to remember that even though OSHA may no longer issue recordkeeping violations beyond the six-month statute of limitations, employers are still required to keep and maintain their injury and illness records for five years. Additionally, during that five-year period, employers must continue to update their OSHA 300 Logs when new or additional information is presented which would alter or impact what is and isn’t recordable.

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