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Blumenthal, Courtney, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Protect Workers

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Representative Joe Courtney (CT-2) joined Representatives Mark Takano (CA-41), and Bobby Scott (VA-03) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) in introducing the “Accurate Workplace Injury & Illness Records Restoration Act.” This legislation would reinstate the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) recordkeeping rule that was overturned by a Resolution of Disapproval (H.J. Res. 83) under the Congressional Review Act and signed into law by President Trump on April 3, 2017.

“This legislation would reinstate record-keeping requirements that protect workers from being hurt on the job,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “It imposes no new costs on employers – in fact, it may increase savings, because injuries are bad for business and cost time and money. Responsible employers want safe workplaces. It’s really that simple.”

“Keeping accurate records is the bare minimum for transparency and this bill is a good first step to ensure that OSHA, which is under-resourced and overstretched, can at least conduct oversight of the worst violators to make sure workers have the safe environment they deserve,” said Rep. Courtney.

By overturning the OSHA recordkeeping rule, Congress created a safe harbor for employers to underreport work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Accurate records are essential to identifying and correcting workplace hazards which cause serious injuries. When the patterns of injuries and illnesses are not reported, they are masked from workers and OSHA, and corrective actions needed to save a life or a limb will not be taken. 

More specifically, the bill would reinstate OSHA’s authority to require employers to make and maintain accurate workplace injury records as an ongoing obligation. It also enables OSHA to issue a citation in those cases where the violation of the recordkeeping requirements continues for more than six months from the date the employer should have first recorded the injury.

The Accurate Workplace Injury & Illness Records Restoration Act would:

1)      Amend the six-month statute of limitations in the OSHA Act so that the six-month clock starts running on the date OSHA identifies a continuing violation, instead of on the first date that the violation occurs.

2)      Require OSHA to issue a new regulation within 180 days of enactment which clarifies that an employer’s obligation to make and maintain accurate injury and illness records is a continuing obligation, and that such duty does not expire solely because the employer fails to create the necessary records when first required to do so.

3)      Provide specific authorization for the rule, pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

This legislation creates no new employer recordkeeping or reporting obligations; it clarifies OSHA’s authority to enforce longstanding OSHA requirements.

Democrats are committed to passing the Accurate Workplace Injury & Illness Records Restoration Act to reverse the Trump Administration and Republicans’ irresponsible decision, which endangers the safety of workers.  This legislation simply gives OSHA tools to enforce the continuing obligation to record injuries.

BILL CO-SPONSORS: There are fourteen House members co-cosponsoring this legislation: Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03), Congressman Jared Polis (CO-02), Congressman Darren Soto (FL-09), Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (FL-24), Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Congressman Gregorio Sablan (MP-AL), Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter (NH-01), Congressman Gene Green (TX-29), Congressman Pete Visclosky (IN-01), and Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13). There are also six Senators co-sponsors: Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Senator Al Franken (D-MN).

SUPPORTING ORGANIZATIONS: American Industrial Hygiene Association, AFL-CIO, National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, National Employment Law Project and Public Citizen

To read the fact sheet, click here.

To read the bill, click here