OSHA has issued a final rule that will require employers to send in their injury and illness data electronically for posting on the agency’s website.
Under the rule, Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, all establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the existing OSHA recordkeeping regulation must electronically submit to OSHA injury and illness information from Form 300, 300A and 301. Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain industries must electronically submit information from Form 300A only.
The new requirements take effect Aug. 20, 2016, with phased-in data submission beginning in 2017. OSHA will remove all personal information from the data before it’s put on the web.
The rule is published in the Federal Register.
OSHA hopes the new rule will:
- modernize injury data collection
- better inform workers, employers, the public and OSHA about workplace hazards
- encourage employers to increase their efforts to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses
- enable researchers to use the information to make workplaces safer
- make injury prevention a higher priority for employers competing to hire the best workers, and
- enable employers to benchmark their safety and health performance against industry leaders, to improve their own safety programs.
The final rule also clarifies that employers must have reasonable procedures for employees to report work-related injuries that don’t discourage workers from doing so. The rule targets employer programs and policies (such as incentives for lack of reported injuries) that have the effect of discouraging workers from reporting injuries.
OSHA says the rule uses behavioral economics to improve workplace safety and prevent injuries. It compares the rule to regulations requiring restaurants to disclose their kitchen sanitary conditions.
“Our new reporting requirements will ‘nudge’ employers to prevent worker injuries and illnesses to demonstrate to investors, job seekers, customers and the public that they operate safe and well-managed facilities,” said OSHA chief David Michaels.
The proposal had garnered strong opposition, not just from business and industry groups, but also from safety-related groups that have partnerships with OSHA.
After the rule was made final, American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) President Michael Belcher released a statement reiterating the association’s concerns.
“OSHA’s electronic recordkeeping rule cannot advance worker safety as well as OSHA hopes,” Belcher said. “The rule’s emphasis on data collected after injuries and fatalities occur is a step backward for safety professionals who work hard to move organizations toward measuring leading indicators, which better indicate how to avoid injuries and illnesses.
“Injury and illness rates were never intended to be used as a performance measurement,” Belcher continued, “but that’s exactly what’s going to happen if they are published.” Belcher called on OSHA to reconsider the implications the rule may have, such as causing the worst employers to report even fewer incidents.
Workplace safety attorney Adele Abrams said she’s concerned publicizing injury data could drive scofflaws underground and cause them to not accurately report their injuries. The impact on companies that would try to comply with the reporting rule would be to make their injury records look worse than companies trying to hide theirs.
The Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) also opposed the rule. In a letter to OSHA, RIMS President Carolyn Snow said public attention to worker injuries can present a distorted view of a company’s safety practices and cause them to under-report injuries.
If employers are required to publicly share information, they would stop tracking minor incidents so that their injury rates would appear to be lower compared to other companies, according to the insurance group.
What do you think about the new rules? Let us know in the comments.