OSHA seeks to expand injury reporting requirement for high-hazard industries

Under the proposed regulation, establishments with 100 or more employees in certain industries will have to disclose how many workers become injured or ill on the job.
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On March 30, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed, once again, an amendment to its injury and illness recordkeeping regulation that would require certain employers to report how many employees are getting sick or hurt at work.

Currently, employers with 250 or more employees, or employers with 20–249 employees in “certain designated industries” are required by OSHA to electronically report illness and injury data in aggregate annually through the Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses). Under the proposed regulations, published in the Federal Register:

  • Smaller establishments would have to report. OSHA proposed slashing the reporting threshold from employers with 250 employees to employers with 100 or more employees in “high-hazard industries,” such as warehousing, hospitals and health care establishments, and “wholesalers of many types.”
  • …And it would be public. Establishments would have to “include their company name” in their reports, and OSHA confirmed that it intends to make some of that data publicly available.

Under the Obama administration, OSHA issued a similar rule in 2016; in 2019, under the Trump administration, OSHA rolled it back, and now, OSHA is back for another bite at the apple.

In the preamble to the 2019 rule, OSHA listed the reasons it rescinded most of the Obama-era rule’s regulations, including concerns about violating worker privacy through “routine government collection of information that may be quite sensitive” and that the data collected for OSHA enforcement and compliance would be an “incremental benefit.”

Privacy, please? Brian Hendrix, partner at Husch Blackwell, has similar concerns about the 2022 regulation-remix. He told HR Brew that the new regulation could “impact [employee] willingness to report injuries” if employees do not trust OSHA to protect their privacy.

Jordan Barab, the former deputy assistant secretary at OSHA during the Obama administration, said concerns about confidentiality are, in his view, “kind of a red herring.”

“We spent an enormous amount [of time] when we developed the standard the first time…[working] within OSHA and within the White House technology office to ensure that there was no possible way that any confidential information would be released to the public,” Barab told HR Brew.

The more you know...Barab went on to say that any data collected by the proposed regulations could help OSHA identify how workplace injuries and deaths occur and be a jumping off point for establishing programs to prevent such occurrences—a “treasure of information.”

“That kind of information can inform OSHA as to whether the current standards are working and where they’re not working, why they’re not working, and also how to develop much more effective standards that will not only protect workers, but also be able to be implemented easily by employers,” Barab said.—SV

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HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

HR Brew keeps you effective in the fast-changing business environment.