A recordkeeping proposal OSHA released on November 8, 2013, carries potentially significant implications for employers because it will help OSHA target its enforcement resources as well as draw unwanted scrutiny from investors, stockholders, researchers and community and public health activists to businesses.
The proposal (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-11- 08/pdf/2013-26711.pdf), drafted following public hearings in 2010, would change OSHA’s recordkeeping rules (29 CFR 1904 and 1952) to add requirements for the electronic submission of information on occupational injuries and illnesses that OSHA already requires employers to keep. The information would then be made publicly available on OSHA’s website. The initiative does not change employers’ reporting requirements, but it alters their obligations for transmitting the information, the agency said.
In a press release, OSHA said the proposal follows on the heels of a Bureau of Labor Statistics report that estimated three million workers were injured in 2012. “Three million injuries are three million too many,” OSHA chief Dr. David Michaels said. The proposed changes would give employers, employees, the government and researchers better access to data to improve workplace safety and health, he added.
By identifying workplaces that pose higher risks, OSHA said it can more effectively target its compliance assistance and enforcement resources. According to OSHA’s plans, the data will be available online and eventually made public. (The information could become fodder for stockholder inquiries, investor decisions and research studies. The data also could be used by unions for organizing grievances, or collective bargaining, and by activists opposed to a particular business or its expansion plans.)
Three changes are proposed by OSHA. First, businesses required to keep records under Part 1904 and who employed at least 250 full-time, part-time, temporary or seasonal workers at any time during the previous calendar year must send their Form 300 and 301 data to OSHA quarterly. In addition, summary data from the OSHA Form 300A must be submitted no later than March 2 of the following year.
Second, employers deemed to be in high-hazard industries (listed in an amended appendix to Part 1904) who had at least 20 workers the previous year must electronically transmit the information in their completed annual 300A summary form once a year, also by March 2. This proposed change would replace OSHA’s current annual injury and illness survey requirement. Employers are expected to submit the information without being told by OSHA to do so.
Finally, any employer notified by OSHA to collect injury and illness information must submit it based on the frequency specified in the notification.
The agency said it would provide a secure website for all data submissions. The proposed requirements apply to all employers, including those covered under state plans. The public comment period closes February 6, 2014. A public hearing will be held at OSHA headquarters in Washington, D.C. in January 2014.