s Republicans accelerate their deregulatory crusade in Congress, they are putting workplace safety standards squarely in their crosshairs. At the top of the list, the GOP wants to do away with an Obama administration regulation that maintained the power of an OSHA workplace injury recordkeeping rule. House Republicans voted to eliminate the rule in early March, and the Senate will vote on it Tuesday.
The rule mandates that employers are responsible for tracking and recording all their workplace injuries and illnesses and allows OSHA to fine companies that fail to keep accurate and complete records going back five and a half years. Obama’s former top OSHA official warns that repealing the rule would undercut the agency’s ability to levy fines against high-violation companies that consistently fail to keep records of workplace injuries, making it harder for responsible employers to compete and putting workers in harm’s way.
“If you don’t record injuries, you can’t investigate them, and you can’t prevent the next one,” says David Michaels, who headed up OSHA for Obama’s entire presidency. “If this rule is overturned, there will be no sanctions against employers who don’t track their injuries even if there is a legal requirement [to do so]. Employers who lie will be advantaged.”