05.15.17

NELP Applauds Federal Legislation on Accurate Workplace Safety Records

Washington, DC—Following is a statement from Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, in response to legislation being introduced today in the House and Senate that would restore the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s ability to enforce requirements for larger employers in the most dangerous industries to keep accurate records of serious workplace injuries:

“The Accurate Workplace Injury and Illness Restoration Act is critical to ensuring the health and safety of workers in hazardous jobs. This legislation will restore OSHA’s ability to sanction larger employers in the most dangerous industries for hiding serious workplace injuries and keeping false records.

“Today’s announcement begins the process of superseding a misguided Congressional Review Act resolution passed by Congress and signed by President Trump that allows employers to maintain fraudulent injury records and willfully violate the law.

“Accurate records are essential to identifying and correcting workplace hazards that cause serious workplace injuries. These records form the basis of the national statistics on workplace health and safety. When such injuries are not accurately recorded, patterns of injuries and illnesses are masked from employers, employees, safety professionals and researchers, and the government; and necessary corrective actions cannot be flagged and taken to save life or limb. ?

“We commend Senators Patty Murray and Richard Blumenthal and Representatives Mark Takano, Joe Courtney, and Bobby Scott on their leadership in this fight to overturn the CRA resolution and ensure that unscrupulous and unsafe employers cannot easily falsify injury records and violate the law with impunity.”

Background

The Occupational Safety and Health Act already requires larger employers in high-hazard industries to maintain accurate records of work-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. For more than 40 years, OSHA has been able to enforce this requirement.

In response to an erroneous D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals opinion, OSHA issued a rule in 2016 to clarify that an employer’s obligation to make and maintain accurate records of serious workplace injuries and illnesses is continuous for as long as that employer is required to keep such records. This OSHA clarifying rule did not impose any new costs or obligations on employers, nor did it affect small businesses. The rule only covered larger employers in the most dangerous industries.

But in their zeal to roll back any and all worker protections they can, Republicans in Congress pushed through a Congressional Review Act resolution voiding this common-sense clarification.

Previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican, found widespread underreporting of injuries by many high-hazard employers, which masked workplace dangers and jeopardized worker safety. All previous administrations were able to enforce the requirements for accurate records. This legislation will restore OSHA’s ability to continue to enforce injury recordkeeping requirements.

The legislation being introduced today would reinstate OSHA's ability to sanction employers in dangerous industries who hide injuries, ensuring that unscrupulous employers cannot easily falsify their injury and illness records, and restoring to OSHA the tools it needs to make our nation’s workplaces and industries safer.?

Press Contact

Isabel Urbano, isabel.urbano@berlinrosen.com, 646-680-0905