DOL Issues Final Rule on Worker Privacy
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported on Thursday (Jan. 24) that it has issued a final rule that eliminates parts of the Obama-era "Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses" rule.
The agency says that the ruling “will better protect personally identifiable information or data that could be re-identified with a particular worker.”
The rule rolls 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. These establishments are still required to electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses).
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 proposal also noted at the time, though, that the most recent deadline (for calendar year 2017) for Forms 300 and 301 information was July 1. The agency said that it would not enforce the deadlines for those forms until further notice, while the rulemaking is underway.
That decision, to not enforce the deadline for those forms, sparked a lawsuit from Public Citizen, the American Public Health Association and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists.
The group said that they had been intending to use the data from those other forms in their research and advocacy efforts after OSHA collected it, and argued that by not enforcing the deadline while the rule was still active, OSHA violated the Administrative Procedure Act and asked the court to require OSHA lift its suspension of the deadlines.
The Trump administration motioned to dismiss that litigation, which was denied by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in December 2018.
According to Business Insurance, if the groups are successful against OSHA in the lawsuit, the court could declare the earlier suspension unlawful and require OSHA to recognize the July 2018 submission deadline.
The Bottom Line
Regardless of what happens with that case, collection of 2018 Form 300A information began on Jan. 2 and is due March 2.