OSHA requires employers to maintain safety records for a period
of five years. The Occupational Safety and Health Act contains a
six month statute of limitations for OSHA to issue citations to
employers for violations. In an effort to close the gap between the
five years employers are required to keep records and the six month
citation window, the Obama Administration implemented the
"Volks Rule," making recordkeeping requirements a
"continuing obligation" for employers and effectively
extending the statute of limitations for violations of
recordkeeping requirements from six months to five years.
On March 22, 2017, the Senate approved a House Joint Resolution
(H.J. Res. 83) nullifying the "Volks Rule" and limiting
the statute of limitations to six months for recordkeeping
violations. President Trump signed the resolution nullifying the
"Volks Rule" on April 3, 2017. The nullification appears
to be in line with President Trump's stated goal of generally
eliminating governmental regulations.
What Does This Mean for California Employers?
California manages its own OSHA program, which generally follows
the federal program, but is not always in lock-step with Federal
OSHA. Cal/OSHA, under its current rules, may only cite employers
for recordkeeping violations that occurred during the six months
preceding an inspection or review of those records. To date, there
has been no indication that California's Division of
Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) has plans to adopt the
"Volks Rule." Barring a change, California employers will
continue to operate under the status quo and be required to
maintain safety records for five years, but will only be exposed to
citations for recordkeeping violations occurring within the last
Current Cal/OSHA Recordkeeping Requirements
Cal/OSHA form 300 (also known as the "OSHA Log 300")
is used to record information about every work-related death and
most work-related injuries that cannot be treated with onsite first
aid (specific requirements can be found in the California Code of
Regulations, Title 8, Sections 14300 through 14300.48). Currently,
California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 14300.33 requires
employers to retain OSHA Log 300 for a period of five years
following the end of the calendar year during which the record was
created, despite the fact that Cal/OSHA can only cite employers for
failing to maintain such records for up to six months preceding an
Looking to the Future
Cal/OSHA is working on regulations that would require electronic
submission of OSHA Log 300 records in California. This would bring
Cal/OSHA more in line with Federal OSHA, which already requires
We will keep you posted as to the changes in California
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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