Friday, April 13, 2012

OSHA Prohibited From Sleeping On Violations

The U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has sent a loud wake up call to OSHA, by ruling that the agency must proceed against injury record generation violations within six months of the injury in question, rather than waiting until OSHA’s infrequent injury log reviews to spot and issue citations for omitted injury reports. In May, 2006, the agency began a review of Volks Construction, and concluded that the company failed to record several on the job injuries to Volks’ workers in the Volks injury logs during the years 2002 through 2006. OSHA cited Volks and imposed $13,300.00 in fines on the company.

Volks moved to dismiss the citations, arguing that the Occupational Safety and Health Act requires the agency to issue citations for failing to record injuries within six months of the injury in question. OSHA defended its lack of diligence by arguing that each injury Volks failed to record constituted an “ongoing violation” of the agency’s five year record maintenance requirement, and therefore the six month statute of limitations did not apply.

While the lower courts went along with the agency, the D.C. Court of Appeals slapped OSHA’s hands, ruling that the agency must issue any citation for failing to log an injury or complete reporting paperwork on it within six months of the date of the injury, or lose its enforcement powers.
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