July 18, 2016

OSHA Delays New Reporting Regulation While Democrats Seek To Slow DOL Overtime Rule

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced last week that it will delay enforcement of its new injury and illness reporting rule. Instead of going into effect on August 10, 2016, OSHA will now enforce the regulation beginning on November 1, 2016. 

The decision came after a lawsuit challenging the rule was filed by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and other groups in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. On Tuesday, the NAM had asked for a preliminary injunction that, if granted, would prohibit OSHA from implementing the rule at all. 

In a statement, OSHA said it decided to delay enforcement of the regulation in order to give itself more time to conduct outreach to employers and to provide them with educational materials and guidance. Click here to read OSHA’s memo. 

Along with its partners at NAM, the Metals Service Center Institute believes OSHA’s rule will harm employers and employees by making their workplaces less safe and increasing the likelihood of workplace injuries and fatalities. If OSHA’s rule is allowed to move forward, employers would have to choose between cutting highly effective incident-based safety programs and drug-testing programs and risking exposure to increased OSHA citations, inspections, and penalties if the safety programs are not removed. If OSHA’s main goal is to eliminate or minimize the frequency and severity of workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths, this rule would not accomplish that goal. 

In other labor-related news, four Democratic members of the U.S. House last week wrote to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) asking officials there to delay full implementation of the department’s new overtime rule by three years. As Connecting the Dots explained at the time, in May DOL issued a final regulation that raises the threshold for employees who are exempt from overtime pay from $23,660 to $47,476 on December 1, 2016.  

The Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act, sponsored by Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), and Collin Peterson (D-MN), would phase in the new threshold over the next three years, beginning with a 50 percent increase in December 2016. Rep. Schrader explained, “Since the DOL’s immediate phase-in date was announced, we’ve heard from business owners and their employees who are worried about implementing this increase overnight” and argued, “Without sufficient time to plan for the increase, cuts and demotions will become inevitable, and workers will actually end up making less than they made before.” Republicans in the U.S. House generally oppose the DOL overtime rule and an increase in the overtime threshold.