President Trump Signs Resolution to Disallow OSHA Penalty Regulations

On April 3rd President Trump signed HJ Res 83 disallowing OSHA regulations that were contrary to statute and expanded the period during which employers would be at risk of penalties for OSHA reporting errors. See announcement at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/04/03/president-donald-j-trump-signs-hjres-69-hjres-83-hr-1228-sjres-34-law

The rule that is being disallowed had the effect of extending to five years the statute of limitations on record keeping violations that the Occupational Safety and Health Act specifically limits to six months. The regulations imposed the risk of employer liability for OSHA reporting in contravention of the statutory provision. The application of the OSHA rules were tested in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals and found to be outside OSHA authority. The agency then sought to go around the court decision through regulations that are the subject of the resolution to disallow.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), chairman of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, released the following statements after President Trump signed H. J. Res 83 into law. Introduced by Rep. Byrne, the resolution blocks an unlawful rule by the Obama Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that violates the Occupational Safety and Health Act and fails to improve workplace safety.

“The role of the executive branch is to enforce the laws — not rewrite them,” Chairman Byrne said. “This OSHA power grab was completely unlawful. It would have done nothing to improve workplace safety while creating significant regulatory confusion for small businesses. I want to thank President Trump for signing this important resolution and blocking the Obama administration’s attempt to change the law through executive fiat. This is just one step in our efforts to uphold the rule of law and advance responsible, proactive policies that keep America’s workers safe.”

“I want to thank my colleague Representative Byrne for leading efforts to overturn the Obama administration’s unlawful power grab, which reflected a failed approach to workplace safety,” Chairwoman Foxx said. “For years, this committee has urged OSHA to develop proactive policies that prevent injuries and illnesses before they occur. Regardless of who is in charge, we will continue to hold the agency accountable in the years ahead.”

As we have noted before, the overreach of OSHA reporting requirements may also impact reporting of injuries and illness in the course of and arising from employment that may be covered for workers’ compensation. Expanded reporting without the certainty of knowing an employer’s responsibility increases risk, potential costs of non-compliance and could impact reporting for workers’ compensation.

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