The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a final rule intended to modernize injury data collection and incorporate that reporting into a new public database.
OSHA requires many employers to keep a record of injuries and illnesses to help identify hazards, fix problems, and prevent additional injuries and illnesses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports more than three million workers suffer a workplace injury or illness every year. “Currently, little or no information about worker injuries and illnesses at individual employers is made public or available to OSHA,” a statement by the agency says. “Under the new rule, employers in high-hazard industries will send OSHA injury and illness data that the employers are already required to collect, for posting on the agency's website.”
Just as public disclosure of their kitchens' sanitary conditions encourages restaurant owners to improve food safety, OSHA expects that public disclosure of work injury data will encourage employers to increase their efforts to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses.
“Since high injury rates are a sign of poor management, no employer wants to be seen publicly as operating a dangerous workplace,” Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels said in a statement. “Our new reporting requirements will ‘nudge’ employers to prevent worker injuries and illnesses to demonstrate to investors, job seekers, customers and the public that they operate safe and well-managed facilities.” Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target compliance assistance and enforcement resources at establishments where workers are at greatest risk, and enable “big data” researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer, he said. Access to these data will also enable employers to benchmark their safety and health performance against industry leaders, to improve their own safety programs.
To ensure that the injury data on OSHA logs are accurate and complete, the final rule also promotes an employee's right to report injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation, and clarifies that an employer must have a reasonable procedure for reporting work-related injuries that does not discourage employees from reporting.
Using data collected under the new rule, OSHA will create “the largest publicly available data set” on work injuries and illnesses. In compiling that database, it will remove all personally identifiable information associated with the data before it is publicly accessible.
Under the new rule, all establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation must electronically submit to OSHA injury and illness information from OSHA Forms 300, 300A, and 301. Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain industries must electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A only.
The new requirements take effect Aug. 10, 2016, with phased in data submissions beginning in 2017. These requirements do not add to or change an employer's obligation to complete and retain injury and illness records under the Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses regulation.