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OSHA issues final rule on recording illnesses and injuries

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a final rule clarifying that employers in Pennsylvania and nationwide have an "ongoing obligation" to keep accurate records of workplace illnesses and injuries. The rule was published in the Federal Register on Dec. 19.

The final rule does not add new requirements for compliance or record-keeping of illnesses or injuries. However, the rule makes clear that employers' responsibility for maintaining accurate records does not end if they fail to record an illness or injury. A representative for OSHA said that accurate records "have a valuable and potentially life-saving purpose."

While the obligations for employers remain the same under the final rule, an amendment shortens the time frame in which OSHA may issue a recording-keeping violation. The agency must now issue record-keeping violations within six months of an employer's alleged failure to record an illness or injury. The change comes in response to a 2012 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that overturned OSHA's previous stance that it had five and a half years to issue such a citation. OHSA admitted that "the continuing nature" of its requirements for employer record-keeping were unclear.

Employees who suffer a workplace illness, such as lung disease, cancer or depression, may be eligible to receive long-term workers' compensation benefits. These benefits cover an employee's medical expenses, a portion of their wages and other financial obligations while they are unable to work. Some people find it beneficial to seek the advice of an attorney before filing their benefits claim.

Source: Safety and Health, "OSHA issues final rule to clarify 'ongoing obligation' for recording work-related illnesses and injuries," Dec. 20, 2016

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