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March 02, 2017
House votes to overturn OSHA recordkeeping changes

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to overturn an OSHA recordkeeping rule that was passed during the Obama administration and took effect in January. The next step is Senate approval, which is anticipated, before it lands on President Donald Trump’s desk, where it’s expected to be signed into law.

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With the help of a rarely used measure known as the Congressional Review Act (CRA) the House voted 231 to 191 on March 1 to block a rule that clarified employers’ obligation to record all injuries and illnesses for as long as the employer must keep records of the recordable injury or illness—a period of five years. According to OSHA, “the duty does not expire just because the employer fails to create the necessary records when first required to do so.”

Alabama Republican Bradley Byrne, who introduced the legislation that was passed by the Republican-controlled House, called the OSHA rule a “power grab.” The Senate is expected to follow suit, and President Trump is expected to sign both bills.

In 2012, OSHA was on the losing end of a legal matter known as the Volks case. The court maintained that OSHA must cite an employer for failing to record an injury or illness within six months of the first day on which the recording was required. OSHA’s contention that recordkeeping violations are continuing led to the Obama-era rule that took effect January 18.

The Congressional Review Act provides a way for lawmakers to overturn an executive branch regulation. Under the CRA, before a rule can take effect, an agency must submit a report to each house of Congress and the Comptroller General containing a copy of the rule and a statement relating to the rule. Members of Congress have specified time periods in which to submit and take action on a joint resolution of disapproval. If both houses pass the resolution, it is sent to the President for signature or veto. A veto is not expected in this case.

Some observers say yesterday’s vote signals the beginning of regulatory rollbacks expected to characterize the Trump White House.

The rule in question can be found here.

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