Failure to Report: An Ongoing OSHA Violation

Posted on 7/30/2015 by Roger Marks

On July 29, 2015, OSHA proposed a new rule to clarify employers’ injury and illness reporting and recordkeeping (I2P2) responsibilities. Namely, the new rule seeks to make it clear that recording of injuries is an ongoing responsibility—meaning employers must keep records of injuries and illnesses even in cases when the employer failed to record it when first required to do so.
OSHA injury illness reporting
While the proposed rulemaking is largely administrative—employers’ reporting obligations will not change—the “ongoing” nature of reporting violations is important. The OSH Act sets a six-month statute of limitations for OSHA violations. If a violation occurred more than six months ago, the law prohibits an OSHA inspector from issuing a citation. By clarifying that reporting incidents are ongoing violations, OSHA side-steps the six-month statute of limitations. A reporting violation is ongoing until the employer corrects it, and a citation may be issued even when the initial failure to report occurred outside of the six-month window.  

Comparing the ongoing nature of injury and illness reporting violations to court decisions in cases involving unpaid child support (US v. Edelkind), predatory banking practices (Postow v. OBA Federal Savings & Loan), prisoner escape from Federal custody (US v. Bailey), failing to register as a sex offender (US v. George), unregistered immigration (US v. Franklin), and more, OSHA’s proposed rule makes it clear that failure to record an injury or illness is an ongoing violation of Federal work safety standards.

In the new proposed rule, OSHA states, “As long as the employer fails to comply with its ongoing duty to record an injury or illness, there is an ongoing violation of OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements that occurs every day employees work at the site.”

What’s Changing for Employers?

The proposed OSHA recordkeeping rule makes additions, deletions, and wording changes to 29 CFR 1904, to clarify the requirements for employers. Based on preliminary economic analysis, OSHA states that these proposed revisions do not constitute an economically significant regulatory action. The full text of the proposed rule is available here.

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