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OSHA Wants Companies to Report On-the-Job Injuries to Public Database

Joe Mont | November 7, 2013

Companies will need to report workplace injuries to a government database that will eventually be made public under a rule proposed Thursday by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA is proposing to amend its current recordkeeping and reporting regulations to add requirements for the electronic submission of injury and illness information employers are already required to keep. The first proposed requirement is for establishments with more than 250 employees (and who are already required to keep records) to electronically submit the records on a quarterly basis to OSHA. The agency, part of the Department of Labor, also proposes that businesses with 20 or more employees, in certain industries with high injury and illness rates, be required to electronically submit a summary of work-related injuries and illnesses once a year.

OSHA plans to eventually post the data online, the first time this specific information would be made public. Company-specific data is intended to help it target compliance and enforcement resources more effectively by identifying workplaces where workers are at greater risk, and enable employers to compare their injury rates with peers. The agency says it currently “does not have direct, timely, and systematic access” to useful and accessible establishment-specific injury and illness data.

"The proposal does not add any new requirement to keep records; it only modifies an employer's obligation to transmit these records to OSHA,” Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health said in a statement.

OSHA can currently acquire establishment-specific injury and illness information directly from employers in three limited ways. Inspectors routinely examine injury and illness records, but for only a small percentage of business locations each year (1 percent of establishments in 2010). The OSHA Data Initiative also collects establishment-specific information, but only summary data and not in a timely fashion.

                             

Employers are required to report deaths and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees as a result of a work-related incident, but these instances are comparatively rare. OSHA receives fewer than 2,000 establishment-specific reports of fatalities each year and fewer than 20 establishment-specific reports of multiple-hospitalizations.

OSHA estimates the rule will have economic costs of $11.9 million per year, including $10.5 million per year to the private sector. Compliance costs are estimated to be $183 per year for companies with 250 or more employees and $9 per year for businesses with 20 or more employees. Current recordkeeping rules currently covers approximately 750,000 employers with more than 1.5 million establishments.

The public will have 90 days, through Feb. 6, 2014, to submit written comments. On Jan. 9, 2014, OSHA will hold a public meeting on the changes in Washington, D.C. A Federal Register notice announcing the public meeting is forthcoming.

The proposals follows the Bureau of Labor Statistics' release of its annual Occupational Injuries and Illnesses report, which estimates that three million workers were injured on the job in 2012.