A resolution that would cut employers’ required recordkeeping time on work-related injuries and illnesses from five years to six months passed the Senate on Wednesday. It will now cross the desk of President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it.
The Senate voted 50-48, along party lines, to eliminate the OSHA rule. Two Republican senators abstained.
The rule, which went into effect in January, gave OSHA the authority to fine and cite companies that failed to track work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths for five years after they occurred. It was an answer to a 2012 D.C. Court of Appeals decision, Volks Constructors vs. Secretary of Labor, that stipulated that OSHA could only require companies to keep records of workplace incidents up to six months after they occurred.
In response to the resolution’s passage, UAW President Dennis Williams called it “a slap to the face of American workers” and urged Trump to veto it. Williams said if employers can legally dispose of incident records after six months, “it will be extremely difficult to identify and fix hazards and incident patterns that cause illnesses, severe injuries, or even deaths on the job.”
Supporters of the repeal, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Home Builders Association, contend that OSHA does not have the authority to write laws. Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL), chairman of the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee and chief sponsor of the resolution, called the rule an “unlawful power grab” that only increases paperwork and “does nothing to improve worker health and safety.”
Earlier this month, Congress passed a resolution to repeal another Obama-era regulation, the Fair Labor and Safe Workplaces rule, that limits the ability of companies with histories of workplace hazards or wage thefts to secure federal contracts. Trump has not yet signed that repeal.