Safety and OSHA News

OSHA proposal: More of companies’ injury data available online

More information about companies’ injury and illness data would be available online to the public through a new OSHA proposal.

The agency has proposed revisions to its recordkeeping regulations that would require:

  1. facilities that must keep injury and illness records under OSHA’s regulations and that had 250 or more employees in the previous year to electronically submit information from these records to OSHA on a quarterly basis
  2. facilities that must keep injury and illness records under OSHA’s regulations and had 20 or more employees in the previous year, and are in certain designated industries, to electronically submit the information from the annual summary (Form 300A) to OSHA, and
  3. all employers who receive notification from OSHA to electronically submit specified information from their injury and illness records to OSHA.

OSHA predicts electronic injury reporting would:

  • identify workplaces where employees are at greatest risk and enable OSHA to target its compliance assistance and enforcement efforts accordingly
  • make timely, establishment-specific injury/illness information public, which would encourage employers to maintain and improve workplace safety/health to support their reputations
  • make the information easily available to employees and job applicants
  • make the data easily available to customers who could then make informed decisions about the companies they do business with, and
  • improve research on occupational safety and health by making injury information more readily available to researchers.

OSHA’s current recordkeeping rule already applies to about 750,000 employers with about 1.5 million facilities. They’re required to complete Form 301 (report for each injury/illness), Form 300 (log of injuries and illnesses), and Form 300A (annual summary of injuries and illnesses).

Replaces previous initiative

Some of this information is already collected by OSHA when:

  • a facility is inspected, or
  • a workplace is part of the OSHA Data Initiative (ODI).

The ODI collects information from facilities with 20 or more employees in manufacturing and 70 non-manufacturing industries with high injury rates. About 160,000 facilities are subject to participation in the ODI.

Each year, a survey collects information from Form 300A from facilities in the ODI. OSHA then calculates injury rates for each facility and uses them in its Site-Specific Targeting enforcement program. This information is also made available from a searchable database on an OSHA webpage.

OSHA’s new proposal would replace the ODI with the requirement for companies with 20 or more employees in the above list (item #2).

Swift opposition

Even before OSHA officially released its proposal, a representative from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce telegraphed potential opposition.

Marc Freedman, executive director for labor policy at the Chamber, told the AP, “Making company-specific data on injuries available for all to see would be a major problem and would likely lead to companies being targeted by outside groups who want to characterize these employers as having bad safety records.”

“It’s going to be placing a burden on businesses and employers that they’re going to be out in the public sphere, online, and it’s kind of punishing them for workplace injury and illness,” said Amanda Wood, director of labor and employment policy at the National Association of Manufacturers.

3 million injuries a year

OSHA’s announcement came on the same day that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its annual tally of workplace injuries and illnesses. Nearly 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2012. That’s a rate of 3.4 cases per 100 employees, a decrease from 3.5 in 2011.

Despite the overall decrease in injuries, cases involving days off, job transfer or restriction (so-called DART cases), were steady. The DART rate has been unchanged at 1.8 per 100 employees since 2009.

This means there hasn’t been a decrease in more serious injuries in the last three years.

In its news release on the electronic reporting proposal, OSHA already used the information from this year’s BLS survey to make its case for the need for the updated regulation.

OSHA’s proposal can be looked at as another part of its “regulation by shaming.” In a document distributed to OSHA employees in 2010, OSHA at 40: New Challenges and New Directions, OSHA administrator David Michaels said the agency hopes public condemnation of business activities that result in serious injury or death will act as a deterrent. OSHA has issued more hard-hitting press releases that tie workplace catastrophes with large fines issued by the agency.

What do you think about OSHA’s recordkeeping proposal? As the safety professional at your company, would you use the online data? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. A rate of 3.4 cases in 2012 from 3.3 in 2011 is an INCREASE, not decrease in recordable injuries.

  2. fredhosier says:

    Editor’s note: Our original story had the numbers transposed. They’re correct now. Thanks for pointing out the error.

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