OSHA Proposes Rollback of Electronic Injury Reporting

Originally published by: Construction DiveAugust 2, 2018

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Summary:

  • OSHA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor, has proposed a rule that would eliminate the requirement that employers with 250 or more employees electronically report detailed information about their workers' injuries and illnesses, according to a July 30 notice in the Federal Register.
  • Large employers would still have to submit information from Form 300A, "Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses," electronically, but not from Form 300, "Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses," or Form 301, "Injury and Illness Incident Report." OSHA said that the information from the more detailed forms, such as body parts affected by injury or illness or treatment specifics, would be accessible through Freedom of Information Act requests and could potentially be traced back to workers, compromising their privacy. OSHA said the risk of exposing sensitive worker information, the cost to OSHA of collecting the data and the financial burden of employer reporting outweighed the benefits of the current rule.
  • OSHA, which said the proposed rule still maintains safety and health protections for workers, would also require companies to submit their employer identification numbers along with the information from Form 300A. The agency is accepting comments about the proposed revision until Sept. 28, 2018. 

Background:

Already, according to The Hill, some safety advocates are speaking out against the proposed change, arguing that elimination of regulatory protections will harm workers.

The electronic reporting rule has a contentious history, and construction industry associations have been fighting it since the proposal stage. The National Association of Home Builders, which has been a particularly vocal opponent, said the rule could also expose proprietary employer information, like how many hours employees work, and would be an unfair representation of an employer's safety record because there would be no information about the measures companies take in response to injuries or illnesses. And, like OSHA, construction groups have argued that the rule would create a financial burden for many companies.

OSHA announced last November that it had pushed back the first required electronic reporting date to December 15 in order to give employers more time to familiarize themselves with the web-based reporting system. The original reporting date was July 1.

In March of this year, however, a report from Bloomberg raised doubts that employers required to do so were even submitting the summary information from Form 300A. OSHA expected reports from 350,000 worksites, but received information from only 153,653. Employers could be confused about their reporting obligations, as 61,000 reports came from those not required to send in information.  

The rule change submission from OSHA is a sign that President Donald Trump and his administration are still keen on reducing what they see as expensive, red tape processes, a position that was a focal point of the 2016 presidential campaign. 

Editor's Note: Click here to read OSHA's press release announcing the rulemaking.