In a vote that took place this past Wednesday, the Senate, led by Republicans, were able to pass a bill (50-48 vote) that reduces the length large companies are required to keep workplace injury report violations from five years to six months. This vote effectively repeals an Obama administration change that forced employers to keep more detailed workplace injury records and to keep them for longer. OSHA officials have gone on record already, claiming that this new standard does not allow for the proper time to investigate workplace injury reports before employers can destroy them. “This will give license to employers to keep fraudulent records and to willfully violate the law with impunity,” said Debbie Berkowitz, a former OSHA policy adviser.
The House has already voted to repeal this Obama era bill, so all the Senate needed was a simple majority, which it got on Wednesday. Donald Trump is expected to sign this bill into law, as he continues his aggressive campaign to repeal regulation in many sectors.
This is not the first time in recent years that laws related to workplace injury reports have been subject to regulatory action; in 2012 a court ruled that OSHA’s model for workplace injury reporting was too complex. It was not until the Obama administration passed another bill that extended the time-frame to 5 years of data retention. Workplace injury and safety officials have expressed concern that this new bill will make it virtually impossible to conduct safety audits in enough time, citing the large number of businesses and the lack of staffing at their agency.
This is not the first workplace safety rule that Republicans voted to repeal this month. They were also able to successfully repeal an Obama era regulation that made it harder for companies to get federal funding if they have a history of dangerous workplace conditions.
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