The Occupational Safety and Health Administration last week released its final rule on the tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses, including several significant changes to how employee injury data is compiled and disseminated.
Currently, OSHA requires employers with 10 or more employees to keep a record of all workplace injuries and illnesses, and does not require companies to submit or publicize these records beyond their annual posting at the facility each year. OSHA does require facilities to report serious injuries. Under the new rule, nearly all employers will now be required to submit full records of injuries and illnesses to OSHA on an annual basis. OSHA will then post all data collected – with all employee-specific information removed – on its website.
“Raw data of records of workplace injuries and illness do not convey any information about the employer’s policies, training, protection or commitment to workplace safety,” said Emily Lyons, IDFA director of regulatory affairs and counsel. “Publishing the data in these records could encourage customers and consumers to make business and purchasing decisions in a vacuum, without providing appropriate context for their consideration.”
In comments submitted in 2014, IDFA objected to the rule on the grounds that raw data would be misunderstood, misused and harmful to the companies required to submit the records, and joined over 60 other associations and businesses in urging OSHA to withdraw the proposed requirements.
Beginning January 1, 2017, OSHA will require companies with 250 or more employees to electronically submit complete records of illnesses and injuries to be posted on the OSHA website. Establishments with 20 or more employees in a small subset of industries will be required to submit a reduced number of records. All employers covered under this rule must be in compliance by March 2, 2019.
Also under the final rule, OSHA will be allowed to issue a citation to an employer “if any adverse action is taken against an employee for reporting an injury or illness” regardless of whether an employee complaint was filed. In comments submitted by the Coalition for Workplace Safety, IDFA objected to this expansion of OSHA’s whistleblower protections without requiring an employee to complain to OSHA.
“This could put safety incentive programs at risk if OSHA believes they suppress an employee’s willingness to file a complaint," said Lyons.
Read the final rule, “Improved Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses,” here.
For more information, contact Lyons at firstname.lastname@example.org.