This week, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution that repealed a regulation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding the reporting of workplace injuries. The President is expected to sign the repeal into law. The repealed regulation allowed OSHA inspectors to fine corporations who failed to properly record workplace injuries if the reporting error occurred within five years of an OSHA citation. Now that the regulation has been repealed, OSHA can only fine corporations for violations that occurred within six months of an OSHA citation.
Federal statues require certain corporations to record workplace injuries and keep those records for five years. So, this regulatory repeal basically just makes it easier for corporations that do not follow the law to avoid any consequences for their unlawful activity. Former Commissioners of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that served under Presidents Bush and Obama both criticized the repeal of this regulation. They argued that repeal of the regulation would mean that, “responsible employers who accurately record workplace injuries will be at a disadvantage competing with employers who do not maintain accurate records.” They also warned that repealing the regulation would result in less accurate data on workplace injuries and, thus, make it more difficult to enact policies to protect workers.
The vote on repeal of the regulation was largely along partisan lines. Senator Collins voted to repeal the regulation and Senator King, along with every Democrat in the Senate, voted against repeal. Representative Poliquin voted to repeal the regulation and Representative Pingree voted against repeal.