The Occupational Safety and Health Administration held a public meeting last Thursday to gather comments regarding its proposed rule on the tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses. The proposed rule, published last November, met immediate opposition from a number of business organizations, including IDFA, and attendees at the meeting last week expressed their concern and called for the rule to be withdrawn.
The proposed rule would amend recordkeeping regulations for companies, requiring them to file electronic reports with injury and illness information that employers currently keep under existing OSHA regulations. Employers with 250 or more employees would have to file every three months and companies with 20 or more employees in high-risk industries would be required to file reports once a year. OSHA would then post the raw data on the agency's public website, identifying everything but the names of employees.
“OSHA staff is well intentioned in their efforts, but they will have a tough time moving the rule forward in its current state,” said Clay Detlefsen, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and counsel, who attended the meeting. He believes the proposed rule will meet a number of obstacles, including:
- whether OSHA has the legal authority to create a public database;
- the free speech rights of companies would be violated if they were required to disclose sensitive information to the public via the OSHA submission; and
- the information submitted would be raw data, without important context, and could easily be misused and distorted by the media, activists and others.
OSHA believes that posting the information to a public database will allow employees, customers and consumers to make decisions about whether they should do business with the companies. However, the agency has encouraged employers to move away from using lagging indicators, like OSHA statistics, and this proposed rule would encourage decisions to be made based on those same statistics.
IDFA is currently working with members to draft comments opposing the rule. The deadline for filing is March 8.
Read the proposed rule here.
For more information, contact Detlefsen, at email@example.com.