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OSHA Revises Rule on Access to Medical Records

Thursday, July 30, 2020

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced earlier this week that it has revised the Rules of Agency Practice and Procedure Concerning Occupational Safety and Health Administration Access to Employee Medical Records.

The rule describes internal procedures that OSHA personnel must follow when obtaining and using personally identifiable employee medical information.

Ed Brown, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced earlier this week that it has revised the Rules of Agency Practice and Procedure Concerning Occupational Safety and Health Administration Access to Employee Medical Records.

The Ruling

OSHA said that it has identified and amended several provisions of the regulation in order to improve efficiency in implementing these internal procedures. Among the revisions, the rule:

  • Transfers the approval of written medical access orders from the Assistant Secretary of Occupational Safety and Health to the OSHA Medical Records Officer. The MRO is responsible for determining the transfer and public disclosure of personally identifiable employee medical information in OSHA’s possession;
  • Clarifies that a written MAO does not constitute an administrative subpoena; and
  • Establishes new procedures for the access and safeguarding of personally identifiable employee medical information maintained in electronic form.

For background, OSHA explains in the rule that it often reviews employee medical records.

“For example, OSHA may need to review employee medical records during a compliance inspection to determine whether an employer is in compliance with OSHA standards and regulations, or to verify that an employer has taken steps to correct existing violations,” the rule reads.

“Access to employee medical records may also be necessary during inspections to determine the effectiveness of voluntary employer safety and health programs. OSHA also reviews medical records when gathering information during agency rulemaking to develop or revise occupational safety and health standards.”

Recordkeeping

In relation to this, the DOL issued a final rule last year on the “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses” rule, which rolled back portions of the requirement to “better protect personally identifiable information or data that could be re-identified with a particular worker.”

The rule also rolled back the requirement for establishments with 250 or more employees to electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report) to OSHA each year.

The agency proposed the rule in July 2018, saying it believed it “maintains safety and health protections for workers, protects privacy and reduces the burdens of complying with the current rule."

The DOL has released multiple reminders about who is required to submit a Form 300A, including:

  • Establishments with 250 or more employees that are required to keep OSHA injury and illness records, and
  • Establishments with 20 to 249 employees in certain industries.

Employers covered under the rule must have their 2019 300A forms posted in a communal workspace from Feb. 1 to April 30. The forms need to be filed by March 2 and retained by the employer for five years.

Six states filed a lawsuit in federal court against OSHA last year, alleging that the entity’s reversal on the Obama-era electronic recordkeeping rule was “illegal and unjustified” and hurts workers in the long run.

   

Tagged categories: Department of Labor; Good Technical Practice; Government; Health and safety; NA; North America; OSHA; OSHA; Regulations; Safety

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