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OSHA Clarifies Employers' Recordkeeping Obligations

In the final days of the Obama Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule that “clarifies” its position that an employer’s duty to record work-related injuries and illnesses is an ongoing obligation that continues for the full five-year record retention period.

The final rule is scheduled to take effect on January 18, 2017, two days before the Presidential Inauguration.  Meanwhile, the rule could still be challenged since several industry groups have objected to the rule.  Additionally, the incoming Trump Administration could delay its enforcement.  However, it is best to be prepared for when the final rule is implemented.

Final Rule Clarifies Continuing Obligation

Under the final rule, OSHA takes the position that an employer’s duty to record an injury or illness continues for the full duration of the record retention and access period, i.e., for five years after the end of the calendar year in which the injury or illness became recordable. Therefore, if an employer initially fails to record a recordable injury or illness, the employer still has an ongoing duty to record that injury or illness for five years.

Additionally, OSHA claims the authority to issue citations to employers for the failure to record an injury or illness up to six months following the five-year record retention period that would have applied to such record.

How to Implement Final Rule

An employer’s recordkeeping obligations remain essentially the same under the final rule: to record injuries and illnesses within seven days and maintain records for five years. Although OSHA contends that the final rule does not impose new compliance obligations on employers, employers should be diligent about recording, maintaining, and ensuring the accuracy of injury and illness records.  It is recommended that employers retain copies of their OSHA logs, Incident Reports, and annual summaries for at least five years.

If you have questions or concerns about OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements and how they may impact your business, please contact one of our CGWG labor and employment attorneys today.