Democratic lawmakers yesterday rolled out a bill that would overturn Congress’ overturn of a provision of OSHA’s recordkeeping rule.

The Accurate Workplace Injury and Illness Records Restoration Act, introduced by Democratic Reps. Mark Takano (Calif.), Joe Courtney (Conn.) and Bobby Scott (Va.), along with Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), would restore the requirement that employers record and keep records on injuries and illnesses for five years. That provision – which took effect in January 2017 -- was eliminated through the use of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) in a proposal signed into law by President Trump in April.

A "safe harbor" for dangerous employers

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) expressed its support of the measure. "By overturning the OSHA recordkeeping rule, Congress created a safe harbor for employers to underreport work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths," according to a statement released by the association. "Accurate records are essential to identifying and correcting workplace hazards because when patterns of injuries and illnesses are not reported, they are masked from workers and OSHA. As a result, the corrective actions needed to save a life or a limb will not be taken." 

AIHA CEO Lawrence Sloan, CAE, said accurate recordkeeping helps identify injury patterns and better target resources. "Accurate recordkeeping further helps to avert future harm that costs businesses, consumers, and taxpayers millions in addition to the significant emotional toll of workplace injuries and illnesses."

What the bill would do

If it passes, the legislation introduced Monday would require OSHA to issue a new regulation within 180 days and would override the CRA’s prohibition against agencies issuing rules that are similar to ones that have been repealed.

The bill also amends the six-month statute of limitation on citations so the six-month clock starts running out when OSHA identifies a continuing violation instead of the date the violation occurred.

“The Trump administration promised to stand up for America's workers but it has pursued an aggressive anti-worker agenda,” Takano said in a statement. “This is an opportunity for President Trump to fix a mistake and keep his promise to stand with working families.”