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OSHA Moves to Change Recordkeeping Rule

Thursday, August 9, 2018

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The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced in late July that it would be taking steps to roll back parts of the Obama-era "Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses" rule, emphasizing the neccesity for better protection of workers' personal information.

The agency issued the proposed rule on July 27 saying that it believes it “maintains safety and health protections for workers, protects privacy and reduces the burdens of complying with the current rule."

The Proposal

The proposed rule eliminates the requirement to electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses), and OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report) for establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to maintain injury and illness records.

© iStock.com / patrickbanks

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced steps late last month to rescind parts of the Obama-era “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses” rule, citing the need to better protect workers’ personal information.

Now, these establishments would be required to electronically submit information only from OSHA Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses).

Further, the new rule noted that the most recent deadline (for calendar year 2017) for Forms 300 and 301 information was July 1. The agency says that it will not enforce the deadlines for those forms until further notice, while the rulemaking is underway.

Safety + Health reports that OSHA's decision not to enforce the 300 and 301 reports provoked Public Citizen, the American Public Health Association and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists to file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The Pushback

Those entities say that the 300 and 301 forms contain vital information on worker safety, and rolling back that requirement puts workers at risk.

“The electronic recordkeeping rule is vital to worker safety. OSHA’s turnabout flouts the law and will needlessly harm workers across the country,” said Sean Sherman, an attorney for Public Citizen. “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.”

The proposed rule is also getting pushback from the other side, which notes that the 300A form also holds confidential information.

Ed Brown, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Further, the new rule noted that the most recent deadline (for calendar year 2017) for Forms 300 and 301 information was July 1. The agency says that it will not enforce the deadlines for those forms until further notice, while the rulemaking is underway.

Marc Freedman, vice president for workplace policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, told the Business Insurance Journal that OSHA has only “dealt with two-thirds of the problem.”

The Background

The rule, first announced in May 2016, requires establishments with 250 or more employees in OSHA-covered worksites to submit information from, among other forms, their 2016 Form 300A, and establishments with 20-249 employees in certain “high-risk” industries—such as construction—must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A.

The rollout of the rule was colored by numerous delays as legal challenges wound through the court system and the administration of President Donald J. Trump took office in 2017 and re-examined many of the new regulations put into place at the tail end of Obama administration.

The online Injury Tracking Application went online Aug. 1, 2017, and weeks later was taken down again over concerns about security. The form went live again in October and reportedly no breach was found.

The 2016 records were due by Dec. 31, 2017, and in March Bloomberg Environment reported that OSHA was missing records from about 200,000 employers, and in April OSHA announced that it corrected what it called “an error” in the implementation of the rule, which had allowed employers in states with state occupational safety plans that had not yet adopted their own electronic-reporting rule to forego submitting records.

When OSHA issued that statement, a handful of states, including Washington and Wyoming, responded that the rule did not apply to employers under their jurisdiction.

The Bottom Line

OSHA is accepting comments on the proposed rule (docket number OSHA-2013-0023, or regulatory information number 1218-AD17) until Sept. 28.

   

Tagged categories: Department of Labor; Government; Health and safety; Laws and litigation; OSHA; OSHA; Regulations; Safety

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