Scenario: A company failed to record an employee’s injury that happened more than four years ago. Can OSHA fine the company for that four years later?
Under the agency’s current practices, it would issue a recordkeeping citation and fine a company.
In 2006, OSHA inspected Volks Constructors’ Prairieville, LA, facility.
OSHA issued citations because Volks failed to record a number of injuries on its OSHA logs. The earliest injury omission was from Jan. 11, 2002, more than four years before the inspection.
Volks appealed, and now the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) has taken up the case.
Lawyers for Volks argue that the OSH Act states, “No citation may be issued … after the expiration of six months following the occurrence of any violation.”
The National Federation of Independent Business is arguing that allowing OSHA to look back as many as five years for recordkeeping violations is an unfair burden on small- and medium-size businesses.
OSHA claims that any inaccurate recordkeeping entry violates the law until the date it’s corrected. There is a five-year record-retention limit, so if the records are older than that, OSHA can’t issue fines.
Should OSHRC decide that the limit is actually six months instead of five years, companies would not be fined for any recordkeeping omissions that are older than six months.
An OSHRC decision is expected in April 2011.
What do you think the limit should be on OSHA’s ability to look back and find older recordkeeping violations? Six months? One or two years? Five years? Let us know in the Comments Box below.