This week, the president signed legislation passed by Congress that repeals a workplace safety rule issued by President Obama late in his tenure. That rule required large companies in industries determined to be particularly hazardous to workers to keep all records related to workplace injuries and illnesses for five years. Without that rule, these companies can essentially purge these records after just six months. The legislation was supported by a number of business lobbies as well as the Chamber of Commerce.
After both the House and Senate voted and overturned the rule. They could do this with a simple majority (50 to 48 in the Senate) by using something called a “resolution of disapproval.”
The current Congress used this procedure earlier this year to repeal another important workplace safety regulations put it place by President Obama. That one was designed to cut down on the number of federal contracts that could be awarded to companies with a history of endangering workers.
Former Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials who have spoken out against the repeal have said getting access to just six months of records is not sufficient to allow it to let it track companies and industries with health and safety issues and dangerous patterns and to assign its resources accordingly.
Further, it provides less incentive for employers to report health and safety issues accurately, if at all, if they know the records can be destroyed after six months. One former official warns, “This will give license to employers to keep fraudulent records and to willfully violate the law with impunity.”
As workplace safety regulations are overturned by a Congress and president that have expressed their wish for fewer business regulations, employees may need to increasingly take matters into their own hands to help keep their work environment safe for themselves and their fellow workers. If you are injured or made ill because of negligence or recklessness by your employer or see situations that are unsafe, it’s essential to take action. California workers’ compensation attorneys can provide legal guidance.
Source: Huffington Post, “Trump Signs Bill Making It Easier For Employers To Hide Workplace Injuries,” Dave Jamieson, April 04, 2017