The U.S. Labor Department has long made it a requirement that employers keep records of all work-related injury and illness. The most current guidelines state that recordkeeping data must be kept for a minimum of 5 years. OSHA’s rule “Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain Accurate Records of Each Recordable Injury and Illness,” intended to clarify the recordkeeping requirement and extended the period in which an employer can be cited for alleged violations from 6 months to 5-and-a-half years after an alleged violation has taken place.
The original guideline, informally known as the “Volks Rule,” was finalized in December 2016 and took effect on January 1, 2017. Since its passage into law, the rule has created a divide between proponents who say this allows OSHA to capture additional data and keep workers safe, and opponents that say this is an overreach by the federal agency. On March 22, 2017, the Volks Rule was overturned by the Congressional Review Act – a rarely used Congressional action that would effectively repeal any standard within six months of its effective date.
The Volks Rule has recently gotten a lot of attention and has even been incorrectly linked to another OSHA rule – the Electronic Recordkeeping Rule which we covered earlier in the year. As of this writing, the Volks Rule has been completely overturned while the Electronic Recordkeeping rule is in limbo as OSHA has noted that although it has not been reviewed, they will not be accepting electronic submission of illness and injury reports. In both cases, the requirement of reporting and maintaining work-related illness and injury records has not changed – the rollback of the Volks Rule only applies to the amount of time in which an employer may be cited.
For more information about the Volks Rule repeal, the National Law Review has a great plain-language article. If you’re looking for further guidance on OHSA’s recordkeeping and reporting requirements, we recommend you check this link out and sign up for their email updates.