OSHA Issues Final Rule Amending the Injury and Illness Recordkeeping Rule

On December 19, 2016 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released its final rule known as the “Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness”. This final rule goes into effect January 18, 2017. The rule amends OSHA’s recordkeeping regulations to clarify that the duty to make and maintain accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses is an ongoing obligation. In other words, OSHA can now enforce the responsibility to accurately record an injury or illness for as long as the employer must keep these records, which is 5 years. The amendments were a response by OSHA to a decision of the United States Court of Appeals (Volk’s case), where OSHA argued that a violation of record-retention requirements constituted “continuing violations”. OSHA felt that every day the records were inaccurate, the employer was committing a new violation and that the enforcement deadline should be extended. Despite the court having dismissed that argument, ruling that a record-making violation does not constitute a “continuing violation”, OSHA agreed the regulation language was not clear and issued the final rule as a means to clarify the regulations and provide a means to go beyond the existing statute (29 U.S.C. § 658(c)) which places a 6-month limit on the issuance of citations for violations. The rule amendments do not add new requirements for employers to make records of any injuries or illnesses for which records are not currently required to be made. However, the amendments will increase OSHA’s reach for issuing citations for recordkeeping violations to five years plus six months due to the “continuing” nature of the violation. It is unclear about the fate of this final rule under the new administration. However, unless any developments occur to change this rule, and as the accuracy of the records is still necessary, employers should review and ensure their injury and illness records are accurate, complete, and compliant under the regulations. SGIA had previously submitted comments on the proposed rule opposing the amendments and will continue to monitor the implementation of this rule and will report on any new developments. Sign up to receive the most up-to-date regulatory and legislative information about specialty imaging. 
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