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OSHA’s Volks Rule: “An Extreme Abuse of Authority”


Worker safety has long been a national priority. But, finalized in the waning days of the Obama administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) “Volks” rule does nothing to advance this priority. Rather than improve enforcement of existing safety standards or collaborate with employers to address gaps in safety, OSHA unilaterally rewrote federal law through regulatory fiat.
 
In a letter to Congress, the Coalition for Workplace Safety described the rule as an “abuse of authority” that does “nothing to improve worker health and safety”:

At its core, the Volks Rule is an extreme abuse of authority by a federal agency that will subject millions of American businesses to citations for paperwork violations, while doing nothing to improve worker health and safety. ... This regulation simultaneously represents one of the most egregious end runs around Congress’ power to write the laws and a clear challenge to the judicial branch’s authority to prevent an agency from exceeding its authority to interpret the law.

The coalition’s letter echoes a 2012 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that rejected the policies reflected in the rule: 

We do not believe Congress expressly established a statute of limitations only to implicitly encourage the Secretary to ignore it. … Nothing in the statute suggests Congress sought to endow this bureaucracy with the power to hold a discrete record-making violation over employers for years, and then cite the employer long after the opportunity to actually improve the workplace has passed.

Congress — not government agencies — has authority to write laws. Fortunately, Congress is already at work to overturn this unlawful power grab. Introduced by Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), chairman of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, H. J. Res. 83 uses the authority given to Congress under the Congressional Review Act to block the Obama administration’s unlawful rule and prevent future administrations from promulgating a similar rule.
 
As Chairman Byrne said when the resolution was introduced:

With this rule, OSHA rewrote federal law while doing nothing to improve worker health and safety. Congress must reject this unlawful power grab and encourage the agency to adopt the responsible, proactive safety approach that America's workers deserve.

H. J. Res. 83 does just that — rejecting a failed approach to workplace safety and encouraging responsible policies that respect the rule of law and proactively keep America’s workers safe.

For a fact sheet on the resolution, click here.