Senate votes to block another Obama-era rule

AP News
Posted: Mar 22, 2017 7:11 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-led Senate voted Wednesday to block an Obama-era rule that critics said would have led to more citations for workplace safety record-keeping violations.

Senators voted 50-48 to block Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule. The House had voted to do so previously.

Employers are required to maintain a log of workplace injuries and illnesses that occur during a five-year span, but an employer may only be cited for failing to keep proper health and safety records within a six-month window.

Critics said the Obama administration was trying to extend the penalty window to five years, describing the rule as "an unlawful power grab."

But labor groups, including the AFL-CIO, said the six-month restriction makes it impossible to enforce the record-keeping requirements since federal government doesn't conduct regulator inspections of even the most hazardous workplaces and won't likely find a violation before the window has expired.

The labor union said the Obama administration's rule created no new obligations, but simply made clear that employers have a responsibility to maintain accurate injury and illness records for five years and during this time can be held accountable for violations if the records are inaccurate.

The sponsor of the legislation, Republican Rep. Bradley Byrne of Alabama, applauded the Senate vote saying "we should be focused on proactive policies that help improve workplace safety instead of punitive rules that do nothing to make American workers safer."

The legislation now goes to President Donald Trump for his signature.