OSHA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that clarifies an employer’s continuing obligation to keep and maintain accurate records of recordable incidents.
The new rule doesn’t impose any new reporting requirements or add any new obligations for employers. Instead, the proposed rule clarifies the obligations that employers already have and reinforces that accurate records “are not simply paperwork, but have an important, in fact life-saving purpose.”
Specifically, the proposed rule clarifies the following recordkeeping obligations:
• Statute of Limitations: Some employers believed that the six-month statute of limitations on issuing citations applied to recordkeeping of recordable incidents as well. The proposed rule emphasizes that government agencies, officials, past and current employees, and their representatives all have a right to access accurate information for five and one-half years after violations occur.
• OSHA 300 Log: The proposed rule mandates that employers review and verify their OSHA 300 logs before submitting them each year.
• OSHA 301 Incident Report: The amended language of the proposed rule emphasizes that employers must prepare a Form 301 Incident Report for each recordable incident, and the obligation continues throughout the five-year retention-and-access period.
Critics of the rule argue that this “clarification” is actually OSHA’s attempt to circumvent a U.S. Circuit Court decision in the 2012 Volks case. In that case, the judges ruled that the Occupational Health and Safety Act allowed OSHA to cite the employer for failure to document a recordable incident only for the first six months following the incident, not for five and a half years as OSHA claimed.
OSHA is accepting written comments on the proposed rule until Sept. 27, 2015.