Opposition to repeal of an OSHA rule that would allow enforcement of accurate injury and illness records is building in the US Senate.  The Senate is scheduled to vote next week on a Congressional Review Act resolution that would repeal the Volks Rule, a vote that would make it impossible for OSHA to enforce its recordkeeping requirements.

Today Alaska Labor Commissioner Heidi Drygas sent a letter to Alaska’s two Senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, requesting that they vote against the repeal “since that legislation would be detrimental both to Alaska workers and to our longstanding partnership with businesses to reduce on the job injuries and associated workers’ compensation costs.”

Drygas argues first that repeal of the Volks Rule will increase injury rates in Alaska and contribute to higher employer costs. “Alaska businesses already pay much higher than average workers’ compensation costs, because we have a greater proportion of high hazard jobs than most states and because of Alaska’s soaring medical costs.”

I am proud of the progress that we have made reducing injury rates and works’ compensation costs but remain concern that shortsighted use of the Congressional Review Act could reverse that progress

Drygas goes on say that although large companies like Alyeska Pipeline go above and beyond OSHA recordkeeping requirements and would continue to do so, “some fly-by-night companies would choose not to. This discrepancy in record keeping would disadvantage high-road Alaska employers relative to less scrupulous employers from Outside.” Drygas explains that “Inaccurate illness and injury records will leave employers, employees, and the State of Alaska ill informed, undermining our ability to lower accident rates.”

Again, the vote is next week. We have a good chance to defeat this attack on worker safety and health if we can convince just three Republican Senators to vote against it.  Call your Senators.

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