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Phyllis Harden

Legislative & Special Projects, Pine Bluff Sand & Gravel
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SENATE REPEAL OF OBAMA-ERA “VOLKS RULE” PRESERVES WORKER SAFETY WHILE PROTECTING THE CONSTITUTION AND RESPECTING COURT RULINGS

March 22, 2017

Firms Will Still Be Required to Maintain Detailed Safety Logs and Make Them Available to Safety Inspectors While Law and Court Orders Setting Statute of Limitations for Violations Will Be Preserved

The chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen E. Sandherr, issued the following statement today in reaction to the Senate passage of a measure to repeal an Obama administration rule that sought to change the statute of limitations on for injury and illness record keeping violations:

“The Senate’s vote to repeal the ‘Volks Rule’ wisely preserves Congress’ constitutional role as the author of the nation’s laws.  This last-minute Obama administration regulation represented an unvarnished effort to usurp Congressional authority and ignore court rulings.  At the same time, repealing the misguided measure fully preserves workplace safety. That is because employers will continue to be required to maintain detailed injury and illness logs for at least five years just as they were under the ‘Volks Rule’ and before it.  And federal and state safety inspectors will continue to have full access to those logs, just as they did with this rule and before it.

“The only thing that changes with the repeal of the “Volks Rule” is that federal officials now have to abide by the six-month statute of limitations established in the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and affirmed by the Courts, for citing employers for recordkeeping violations.  Even better, construction safety professionals will be able to continue spending the majority of their time on project jobsites, making sure workers are safe, instead of in offices reviewing years-old records and cutting checks to government agencies.

“That is why the Associated General Contractors of America is urging President Trump to sign the repeal of the ‘Volks Rule’ into law as quickly as possible. Signing this measure will send a strong signal about the need to protect Congressional authority, respect judicial decisions and preserve workplace safety.

BACKGROUND ON THE ‘VOLKS RULE’:

The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires all construction firms to maintain a detailed log of all jobsite injuries and illnesses.  The same act set a six-month statute of limitations for citing firms that failed to properly record such incidents. Volks, a construction company, successfully challenged the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in court when the agency cited the firm for a recordkeeping violation that occurred more than six months prior. 

Instead of heeding the Court’s instruction to follow the law, the Obama administration finalized a federal regulation in its last weeks in office, known as the “Volks Rule,” that attempted to change the statute of limitations for recordkeeping violations from six months to five years. 

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