We were not surprised when OSHA issued a Notice of Proposed Rule late last week which would eliminate the Obama Department of Labor requirements that employers with more than 250 employees would have to electronically submit their logs of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300) and their Injury and Illness Incident Reports (OSHA Form 301).
The requirements had been widely criticized by the business community which had been concerned about how the information might be used by competitors, the media, and a governmental agency often intent on “shaming” non-compliant employers. The Trump Department of Labor, however, claims that its prime motivation for changing the Obama-era rule is to “better protect personally identifiable information.” While some are likely to be skeptical of this rationale, unless President Trump tweets something to the contrary, this proposed rule is likely to become a regulation (comments on the proposed rule are due by September 28, 2018).
While this is certainly a favorable development for employers, we hope that no employer gets a false sense of security that this proposed rule relaxes pre-Obama requirements. Employers are still required to maintain OSHA 300s and 301s, and they are likely to be the first records that your local OSHA inspector asks for when he shows up at your worksite. If asked for these records, the regulations require you to produce them within four hours. Moreover, this is not one of those situations where you can avoid compliance by asking for a subpoena.
Finally, as we discussed in our June 29, 2018 post, the Trump administration is not doing away with the requirement that employers file their OSHA 300A forms electronically. If you are a covered employer, you should have already electronically filed your OSHA 300As for 2017, and plan on filing this year’s 300A sometime next year.