The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule on Wednesday designed to modernize injury data collection to better inform workers, employers, the public and OSHA about workplace hazards. A number of trade groups and professionals believe that it will create more harm than the intended benefits OSHA anticipates it will provide.
OSHA currently requires many employers to keep a record of injuries and illnesses in order to help companies and their employees identify hazards, fix problems and prevent additional injuries and illnesses. Under the new rule, employers in high hazard industries will send OSHA injury and illness data that the employers are already required to collect, for posting on the agency’s website.
Under the new rule which was proposed in 2013, all establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation must electronically submit to OSHA injury and illness information from OSHA Forms 300, 300A, and 301. Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain industries must electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A only.
National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) Executive Director Todd Schlekeway said in a statement, “It is important that NATE member companies and wireless infrastructure providers understand the new OSHA reporting requirements that will impact their operations. NATE encourages our member companies and all industry stakeholders to immediately review the provisions contained in this final rule in order to ensure compliance with the new requirements.”
To ensure that the injury data on OSHA logs are accurate and complete, the final rule also promotes an employee’s right to report injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation, and clarifies that an employer must have a reasonable procedure for reporting work-related injuries that does not discourage employees from reporting.
Using data collected under the new rule, OSHA plans to establish the largest publicly available data set on work injuries and illnesses, enabling researchers to better study injury causation, identify new workplace safety hazards before they become widespread and evaluate the effectiveness of injury and illness prevention activities. OSHA will remove all personally identifiable information associated with the data before it is publicly accessible.
The new requirements take effect August 10, 2016, with phased in data submissions beginning in 2017. These requirements do not add to or change an employer’s obligation to complete and retain injury and illness records under the Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses regulation.
The final rule is available for reference on the Federal Register HERE. For more information visit OSHA’s webpage on the final rule which includes links to a Fact Sheet and Frequently Asked Questions Page.
OSHA’s electronic recordkeeping gets mostly bad reviews
American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) President Michael Belcher said that “ASSE reiterates its concern that OSHA’s Electronic Recordkeeping rule cannot advance worker safety as well as OSHA hopes.”
OSHA was castigated by the Associated Builders and Contractors who said the new requirement creates a series of problems and will have unintended negative consequences.
However, the AFL-CIO, which fought to have the new rules, welcomed the new reporting requirements that the organization believes will be able to identify emerging trends, which could help prevent future injuries, illnesses and deaths.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is concerned that sensitive employer data will be published without context or explanation. It also stated that unions will use the records in “mischaracterizing employers in organizing and corporate campaigns, and trial lawyers bringing frivolous lawsuits.”
A leading attorney who defends citations before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, Patrick Miller, said that he believes it is flawed in many respects.
For full comments provided by EHS Today on the rule, click here.