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Congress rolls back rule that encouraged workplace safety

This past December, the Department of Labor issued a new rule via the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that extended the period of time for which a company could be fined for improper record-keeping on workplace accidents. Previously, the rule stated that companies could face fines for up to six months. With the new rule in December, the window was extended to five years. The purpose of the rule was to improve workplace safety and motivate companies to keep proper records.

But now, that rule seems destined to be reverted to its pre-December ways. Both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives have voted to revert the rule, which could have massive implications for workplace safety going forward.

For the purposes of this blog post, let's not get sidetracked by the politics involved in this story, and simply focus on the facts. With the new rule that will go before the president and likely be signed, OSHA would have a limited ability to fine companies if their workplace accident record-keeping is lacking.

By almost any measure, this has the potential impact of making many workplaces far more dangerous than they need to be. It also encourages companies to not keep the best possible records that they could under the law.

While it isn't official yet, it certainly seems like this measure will be approved. It will be interesting to see what the response is when the rule (likely) becomes official.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Congress Nullifies Obama Workplace Injury Reporting Rule," March 24, 2017

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