- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is set to issue a final clarification today regarding an employer's duty to keep accurate records of qualifying injuries and illnesses.
- OSHA said the rule, which goes into effect Jan. 18, reaffirms that employers have a "continuing" obligation to record an injury or illness within the specified period of time and to preserve those records for five years.
- The new regulation does not change the current requirements under OSHA recordkeeping rules but refines the existing rules in response to a 2012 DC Circuit court decision around when the post-accident six-month statute of limitations for citations kicks in.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels said in a release that the final rule would clear up exactly what employers’ obligations are and return the agency to "the standard practice of the last 40 years."
OSHA requires employers to record injuries or illnesses within seven days of being notified of the qualifying incident, or else the agency can issue the employer a citation for that violation. According to OSHA, the rule reinforces the agency’s position that if an employer does not record an injury or illness within seven days, the duty to record the incident continues on past the seventh day. Every day beyond that deadline is a "continuing occurrence" of the violation, and a citation must be issued within six months of the day it’s actually recorded, also referred to as the "cessation of the violation."
Violators of the recording rule will also be subject to fines 78% higher than before August, as OSHA raised its penalties to keep pace with the Consumer Price Index. That marked the first fine increase for the agency since 1990.
With an acknowledgment that smaller or mid-size contractors might not have access to safety advisers to help them comply with reporting rules or safety procedures, OSHA introduced a new safety guide targeting those companies. In the guide, "Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs in Construction," the agency focuses on the identification of hazards, emergency response plans and job site inspections as ways to reduce incidences of safety and health issues.