OSHA looks to rewrite illness, injury data submission rules for employers large and small

Sources: Occupational Safety and Health Administration; CP staff

OSHA has proposed a rule requiring establishments with 250 or more employees to electronically submit work-related illness and injury records on a quarterly basis. A companion provision covering certain industries with high injury and illness rates calls for companies employing 20 or more to electronically submit work-related incident summaries annually.

A public comment period for the proposed rule, detailed here runs through February 6, the agency accepting stakeholder and citizen input on “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses” here or at its Washington, D.C., headquarters. OSHA plans to eventually post the data online, per President Obama’s Open Government Initiative, contending that “Timely, establishment-specific injury and illness data will help target compliance assistance and enforcement resources more effectively by identifying workplaces where workers are at greater risk, and enable employers to compare their injury rates with others in the same industry.”   

The agency announced the proposed rule after release of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Injuries and Illnesses report, which estimates that three million workers were injured on the job in 2012. “Three million injuries are three million too many,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “With the changes being proposed in this rule, employers, employees, the government and researchers will have better access to data that will encourage earlier abatement of hazards and result in improved programs to reduce workplace hazards and prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities. The proposal does not add any new requirement to keep records; it only modifies an employer’s obligation to transmit these records to OSHA.”