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Deadline for anti-retaliation provisions in recordkeeping rule delayed to November 1

Originally planned for August 10, the enforcement of the provisions related to anti-retaliation in the recordkeeping rule have been delayed to November 1 to give the agency more time to conduct outreach efforts and provide guidance.

The recordkeeping rule will require the following anti-retaliation actions:

While eight industry groups have filed a lawsuit seeking to block the controversial Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses electronic recordkeeping rule, it is going to be a long process and employers should ensure they are in compliance with the first provisions scheduled to take effect Nov. 1.

Settlement reached with US Steel on injury reporting requirements

As we reported in earlier eNewsletters, the Labor Department (DOL) brought a suit against Pittsburgh-based United States Steel Corp in mid-February seeking to reverse disciplinary actions against two employees for failing to immediately report workplace injuries in accordance with company policy. The DOL and union maintained that the effect of the policy was to discourage injury reporting and to retaliate against workers who did report.

A settlement was reached last month establishing a new company-wide policy that provides for reporting only after an individual is aware of an injury. It establishes a similarly reasonable policy for reporting incidents like near misses. It also rescinds the discipline issued to the three complainants and provides them full back pay with interest.

Employers have some success in negotiating fines, but settlements more difficult

According to a June report by the Washington-based Center for Progressive Reform, employers that admit guilt and agree to immediately correct hazards are often successful in reducing the fines during informal settlement talks. The group attributes this practice to budgetary constraints and limits on the agency's authority.

However, it is not as easy as it was in the past. Since 2010, reductions above 30% require the approval of Regional Administrators. Area Directors may agree to reduce the fine, but generally will not withdraw all citations or downgrade willful or repeat citations with the highest penalties. Moreover, it's important for a company to consider the implications of accepting the citation, which can lead to more costly repeat fines in the future.

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Detailed descriptions of the citations above and other OSHA citations can be found here.