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Recent Federal Deregulatory Actions Impact Surface Finishing
Selected Topics at OSHA

By Christian Richter

President Trump’s early Executive Orders on deregulation, coupled with congressional and agency actions to repeal several Obama era mandates, have reshaped the atmosphere at the agencies in Washington. It’s no surprise that repealing regulations is easy in theory but more difficult in practice. Nevertheless, there are a few OSHA deregulatory actions that have already occurred and that NASF has supported. A few examples should be of interest to NASF members:

OSHA “Volks” Recordkeeping Regulation

In April, the President signed a resolution by Congress (H.J. Res 83), which overturned OSHA’s “Volks” rule or, formally, “Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain Accurate Records of Each Recordable Injury and Illness”.

OSHA had finalized the rule December 19, 2016, very late in the Obama administration. The rule ignored a major ruling by the U.S. DC Circuit Court of Appeals. While employers have been required for some time to record and maintain work-related injury and illness data over a five-year period, they could be cited for violations only within the most recent six-month time period. The Obama administration’s OSHA “Volks” rule permitted citations to be issued to employers for up to five-and-a-half years after an alleged violation. NASF joined in with other associations in opposing the rule.

OSHA formally rescinded the rule on May 3, 2017 with a notice in the Federal Register. From now on, OSHA is prohibited from issuing employers citations for failing to record injuries or illnesses beyond the six-month statute of limitations set out in the OSH Act. The agency is also prohibited from issuing a rule in the future “in substantially the same form” as the earlier, disapproved rule.

Reversal of OSHA “Walk-Around” Memo

OSHA in May withdrew its 2013 Letter of Interpretation by the Obama administration that for the first time legally permitted union representatives and other non-union third party organizing groups to accompany OSHA inspectors on walk-around inspections at non-union workplaces.

At the time it was issued, NASF joined a few dozen other trade associations to oppose the memo, arguing that the interpretation undermined the safety and health focus of the OSHA inspection visit, instead turning it into an opportunity for unions and others with views hostile to the employer to launch or enhance organizing campaigns.

Watch for further regulatory developments in the coming months.



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