Hurting Workers, Hurting Good Employers: More articles on attempts to repeal OSHA’s Volks Rule

You should definitely read every one of the articles below about why repealing the Volks rule is bad for workers, bad for good employers and bad for America. But if you don’t have time, I’ve summarized the greatest hits here:

First, Nell Greenfieldboyce has a great story on NPR’s All Things Considered this evening, starring former OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels and the AFL-CIO’s Peg Seminario. You can listen, or you can read.

Michaels describes what it means for OSHA to be only be able to enforce accurate recordkeeping over a six month period instead of the five year period that OSHA has traditionally required:

Michaels says there just aren’t enough safety inspectors to catch problems that fast. And the effect of this change has been dramatic — citations for bad record-keeping have dropped by about 75 percent.

“Enforcement actions around record keeping are way down,” he says. “And the big cases that OSHA used to have where they could issue fines because an employer had not recorded dozens of injuries — they’ve essentially disappeared.”

In an article by Justin Miller in the American Prospect,, Michaels provides an example:

During an investigation of Wayne Farms, a large poultry producer and processor (which is one of the most injury-prone industries for workers), OSHA discovered a long history of recordkeeping violations. But because of the limited citation window, it was only able to cite the handful of violations that it witnessed in real-time during the investigation. “There were cases so egregious and weren’t recorded properly. We had to ignore scores of violations,” Michaels says.

Meanwhile, back at NPR, Seminario warns that “Employers will have license and they’ll know that they can falsify their records and not be held accountable.”  That will make it harder, she says, to find and fix problems that hurt people at work.

“Employers will have license and they’ll know that they can falsify their records and not be held accountable.” Peg Seminario, AFL-CIO

Meanwhile, the very busy Dr. Michaels has also penned an article for Forbes.

Calling injury and illness logs “road maps for employers and workers to recognize the hazards that have caused the injuries,” Michaels challenges President Trump to live up to his words when he said “Every regulation should have to pass a simple test:  Does it make life better or safer for American workers?”

The answer here is unquestionably “yes”.

“Congress is poised to pass legislation that would undo the OSHA recordkeeping requirements that unquestionably make life safer for workers and help responsible employers. If President Trump signs this bill, injury recordkeeping will become, in effect, voluntary. More workers will be injured and responsible employers who choose to keep accurate records and are committed to worker safety will be hurt.”

And finally, in the American Prospect, former OSHA policy advisor Deborah Berkowitz, currently with the National Employment Law Project, explains why Republicans support the repeal of this important rule.

“If the Senate repeals this OSHA rule, and Mr. Trump decides, as he has indicated he will, to sign the resolution, this serves as yet another sign that the GOP’s allegiance is to corporate lobbyists and enriching big business, first and foremost—and not to this nation’s workers that they pledged to help,” says Debbie Berkowitz, a former OSHA policy advisor who is now with the National Employment Law Project.

The Senate is expected to vote this week. Thousands of phone calls are pouring in. Make sure yours is one of them. And get your friends to call. Call are especially important for those who live in Ohio, Maine, Alaska and Nevada. You can find contact information for your Senators here.

AFL-CIO Congress Congressional Review Act David Michaels Recordkeeping Senate Trump Volks Rule

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