OSHA issues final rule clarifying record keeping obligations

OSHA issues final rule clarifying recordkeping obligations

On December 19, OSHA issued a final rule that clarifies an employer's continuing obligation to make and maintain an accurate record of each recordable injury and illness. The final rule becomes effective January 18, 2017.

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OSHA’s longstanding position has been that an employer’s duty to record an injury or illness continues for the full five-year record-retention period, and this position has been upheld by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission in cases dating back to 1993. In 2012, the D.C. Circuit issued a decision in AKM LLC v. Secretary of Labor (Volks) reversing the Commission and rejecting OSHA's position on the continuing nature of its prior recordkeeping regulations.

The new final rule more clearly states employers' obligations. “This rule simply returns us to the standard practice of the last 40 years,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels, PhD. “It is important to keep in mind that accurate records are not just paperwork; they have a valuable and potentially life-saving purpose.”

The amendments in the final rule add no new compliance obligations and do not require employers to make records of any injuries or illnesses for which records are not already required.

The final rule is available at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-12-19/html/2016-30410.htm.