The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued a Notice of Proposed Rule-making (NPRM), to eliminate the need to submit information from OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses), and OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report). This affects establishments with 250 or more employees that currently keep injury and illness records.
The new rule, proposed on July 30, 2018, would require establishments to submit Form 300A data electronically, but there would be no need to submit Form 300 or Form 301 injury and illness data.
OSHA has stated that this change is designed to “protect sensitive worker information from potential disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act,” and lessen the “unjustified” “burden” of reporting currently placed on employers.
OSHA had already announced on its website in May that Forms 300 and 301 would no longer be accepted. This prompted Public Citizen, the American Public Health Association, and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists to file a lawsuit on July 25. The three health and safety advocacy groups filing suit said that OSHA had not correctly followed the Administrative Procedure Act’s notice-and-comment protocol in suspending the deadline that was already in place (employers were originally required to submit data from 2017 by July 1).
Sean Sherman, an attorney for Public Citizen, noted that “the electronic recordkeeping rule is vital to worker safety. OSHA’s turnabout flouts the law and will needlessly harm workers across the country.” In a recent press release, he went on to say that “Public Citizen and other worker advocacy organizations planned to use OSHA’s data to conduct research on occupational health and safety, analyze the most serious workplace threats, and push for stronger regulatory protections.”
Changes of this nature were hinted at in April, when R. Alexander Acosta, the Secretary of Labor, mentioned that his team were “looking at methods where we can obtain the data en masse without individual identifying information because once we receive the data, it can eventually become subject to disclosure.” This was said while Acosta was attending a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing.
OSHA claim the new rule will encourage employers to pay more attention to safety, and improve the accuracy of data collected. The new rule will prohibit employers from discouraging workers from reporting an injury or illness. It will also ensure that employers inform workers of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation. Some data will also be posted to the OSHA website. OSHA suggests that this will encourage employers to improve workplace safety.
Comments and suggestions about the rule are being accepted until September 28.