OSHA Adds Comment Time for Injury Rule
Stakeholders will have 30 more days to comment on a proposal that would require electronic reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses, and eventually make the data publicly available online.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Monday (Jan. 6) that it would extend the comment period on its proposed rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses until March 8.
OSHA granted the extension in response to a request from the National Association of Home Builders. The original deadline for comments was Feb. 6.
Home Builders Request
NAHB had sought a 90-day extension, citing the reporting proposal's overlap with another OSHA proposed rule currently in progress on crystalline silica. NAHB also said that informing home builders and coordinating their responses on the reporting rule would take more time and effort than the 90 days allotted.
NAHB is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association whose mission is to "enhance the climate for housing, homeownership and the residential building industry."
(OSHA announced in October that it would also extend the comment period on its Proposed Rule on Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica by 47 days, making the new deadline for those comments Jan. 27, 2014.)
The proposed injury and illness reporting rule would change the way employers submit their OSHA 300 injury and illness records but would not add new recordkeeping requirements, the agency said.
Under the proposal, about 38,000 companies with 250 or more employees would have to submit their electronic records quarterly (the companies are already required to keep those records). About 440,000 companies with 20 to 250 employees in industries with high injury and illness rates would have to submit a summary report electronically once a year. Companies with fewer than 20 employees are not affected.
By extending the comment period on the proposed reporting rule to March 8, stakeholders will have a full 120 days to submit comments, which OSHA "believes is adequate for this limited rulemaking."
|Koralie Hill / OSHA|
OSHA's proposed rule will affect the way nearly 500,000 companies report workplace illnesses and injuries, requiring electronic submissions that will eventually be made publicly available online.
The extension also ensures that those who attend the Jan. 9 public meeting on the proposed rule will have time to incorporate their comments and views on information presented at the meeting, according to OSHA.
OSHA announced the proposed rule after the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual Occupational Injuries and Illnesses report, which estimated that three million workers were injured on the job in 2012.
"Three million injuries are three million too many," Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor of Occupational Health and Safety, said in a press release.
"With the changes being proposed in this rule, employers, employees, the government and researchers will have better access to data that will encourage earlier abatement of hazards and result in improved programs to reduce workplace hazards and prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities," said Michaels.
Currently, OSHA has access to establishment-specific injury and illness information in a particular year only if the establishment was inspected, was part of OSHA's Data Initiative, or reported a fatality or a multiple hospitalization event.
OSHA says it will eventually post this information online, after removing personal and identifying information—a move encouraged by President Obama's Open Government Initiative.