Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels spoke to the City Club of Cleveland last week about recent trends in workplace safety. One remark that caught the audience’s attention was that, by the end of this year, OSHA will begin making accident reports filed by employers available to the general public.
Back in 2013, OSHA released a proposed rule to “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses.” The rule would amend OSHA’s current recordkeeping regulations to require the electronic submission of injury and illness information that employers are required to keep under existing OSHA standards (Part 104). This includes information the employer enters in injury and illness logs (OSHA Form 300), incident reports (OSHA Form 301) and annual injury and illnesses summary forms (Form 300A). Employers with 250 or more workers would need to submit information from OSHA Forms 300 and 301 on a quarterly basis and information from OSHA Form 300A annually. Employers in “high hazard” industries with 20 or more workers would also be required to submit information from their OSHA Form 300A once a year.
The most controversial aspect of this rule is OSHA’s intent to make this information available online to the public. OSHA would redact employees’ personal information, but the accident histories of individual employers would be available. OSHA claims that publicizing workplace injuries “will nudge employees to better identify and eliminate hazards.” The proposed rule has met strong opposition from employers, who argue that the accident information will be misused and misinterpreted when taken out of context. Safety advocates have also opposed the rule because public disclosure of injury and illness information may chill voluntary reporting by employers.
Despite opposition to the rule, it appears OSHA intends to move forward with publication by the end of the year. We will keep you updated on its status over the next few months.