President Trump yesterday signed the resolution repealing the Volks rule , thereby permanently removing OSHA’s ability to cite patterns of injury and illness recordkeeping violations. The resolution, passed under the Congressional Review Act, is yet another step in the Administration’s goal of deconstruction the administrative state, or as the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne explained recently:
In practice, this is a war on a century’s worth of work to keep our air and water clean; our food, drugs and workplaces safe; the rights of employees protected; and the marketplace fair and unrigged. It’s one thing to make regulations more efficient and no more intrusive than necessary. It’s another to say that all the structures of democratic government designed to protect our citizens from the abuses of concentrated private power should be swept away.
The Senate voted, 50-48 to repeal the Volks rule, and the House voted 231 – 191 last month to repeal the rule.
Employers are still required to retain accurate injury and illness records for 5 years, but there is no way now for OSHA to enforce any violations that are older than 6 months from the time a citation is issued. This means, effectively, that there will be no more large OSHA recordkeeping cases similar to those which throughout OSHA history — in Democratic and Republican administrations — have impacted entire industries.
Bottom line: Low road employers will get away with cheating on the OSHA logs, workers will no longer have access to accurate information about where injuries and illnesses are happening in their workplaces, good employers will no longer be able to compete on a level playing field with bad employers, and more workers will get sick, injured and killed in the workplace. This action will also be a blow to accurate national statistics on workplace conditions assembled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which is why two former BLS Commissioners — from the Obama and Bush administrations — appealed to the Senate not to kill the Volks Rule.
Former OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels made one last ditch attempt to convince the President via an open letter and on Twitter. Apparently the Tweeter-in-Chief, who purports to work for the benefit of working people, doesn’t much care about the damage he’s causing to the health and lives of workers in this country.
More on the Volks Rule here.