Health & Safety Watch: OSHA’s Volks Rule Overturned, Silica Rule Delayed

Posted on 10 April 2017 by CRadmin3

During the first week of April, two major rules established by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) faced scrutiny resulting in the Congressional overturn of one rule and a delay in enforcement of another.

On April 4, President Trump put his signature on a Congressional Review Act (H.J Res 83) repealing what has become known as the Volks Rule. The rule was put into effect on December 19, a little more than one month before Trump was inaugurated.

This regulation introduced new responsibilities for recordkeeping, and it allowed OSHA to issue citations when employers failed to record work-related injuriesi during a five-year retention period.

The rule came about as the result of a 2012 legal case against Volks Constructors, whose attorneys successfully argued that OSHA does not have the authority to issue citations for violations that occurred before the six-month statute of limitations.

OSHA finalized the rule in December 2016, and it went into effect this January, and according to the agency, the rule was created in order to “clarify that the duty to make and maintain an accurate record of an injury or illness continues for as long as the employer must keep and make available records for the year in which the injury or illness occurred. The duty does not expire if the employer fails to create the necessary records when first required to do so.”

Under the new legislation, employers must still keep records for workplace injuries and illnesses, but OSHA’s options for enforcement have been reduced.

“The role of the executive branch is to enforce the laws – not rewrite them,” stated U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-AL), chair of the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee. “This OSHA power grab was completely unlawful. It would have done nothing to improve workplace safety while creating significant regulatory confusion for small businesses.”

OSHA Delays Enforcement of Silica Rule

Just two days later, on April 6, OSHA published a press release stating that it will be delaying the scheduled start of enforcement for the new rule setting a stricter standard for respirable crystalline silica as it applies to the construction industry.

Enforcement of the rule in the construction industry was set to begin June 23, 2017, but the new date for enforcement will be three months later on September 23, 2017.

OSHA urges all employers in the construction industry to continue implementing measures to comply with the new permissible exposure limit, including air quality controls, exposure assessment, employee training and medical surveillance.

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