A recent ruling by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) clarifies OSHA’s ability to fine companies for older recordkeeping violations.
OSHRC delivered a mixed ruling, but most of the decisions went against the company.
OSHA inspected Volks Constructors’ Prairieville, LA, facility on May 10, 2006 and issued five citations for recordkeeping violations on Nov. 8, 2006.
OSHA cited Volks for failure to:
- complete OSHA incident reports for the 67 injuries that occurred between August 2002 and April 2006
- enter 102 recordable injuries that occurred between January 2002 and April 2006 on its OSHA 300 logs
- review its 2002 to 2005 logs to verify that entries were complete and accurate and to correct any deficiencies
- have a company executive examine the logs and certify that the annual summaries (Form 300-A) were correct and complete, and
- post an annual summary of injuries from Feb. 1 to April 30, 2006.
Volks appealed the citations, arguing that the OSH Act states, “No citation may be issued … after the expiration of six months following the occurrence of any violation.”
OSHA noted that its regulations require employers to keep injury records for five years, so it argued that Volks’ lack of those records counted as a continuing violation.
OSHRC upheld the first four citations, agreeing with OSHA that employers can be fined for not having injury records that go back five years.
However it threw out the fifth citation because the OSHA regulation says injury summaries only have to be posted until April 30 of each year. Since the citation was issued more than six months after April 30, 2006, it wasn’t valid.
OSHRC upheld a $13,300 fine against Volks.
Note: One member of the three-person OSHRC panel that heard Volks’ appeal dissented. That commissioner said the six-month limitation should apply to all five citations, and that none of them were valid.
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(Secretary of Labor v. AKM LLC dba Volks Constructors, OSHRC, No. 06-1990, 3/11/11)