OSHA Proposes Workplace Injury, Illness Rule
Just weeks after the 2021 injury and illness reports by specific employers were due, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration published a new proposed rule aimed at improving the process.
Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses was published on March 30.
According to OSHA, if adopted, the new rule would require:
Additionally, establishments with 250 or more employees, not in designated high-hazard industries, would no longer be required to electronically submit recordkeeping information to OSHA.
Through electronic submission of establishment-specific and case-specific information outlined in Forms 300 and 301, OSHA will be better equipped to utilize its resources more effectively, according to the Agency.
The changes would also help OSHA to identify workplaces where workers are at greatest risk from specific hazards and to target its compliance assistance and enforcement efforts accordingly, which would ultimately improve research on occupational safety and health.
The electronic submissions are also expected to improve employers’ ability to compare their own injury and illness data on hazards with the data from similar establishments in the same industry. And, for stakeholders, OSHA believes the change will help to make more informed decisions.
The proposed rule is currently accepting comments electronically to the federal docket folder (number OSHA-2021-0006) on the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal Regulations.gov. The deadline to submit comments is May 31.
In January 2019, the Department of Labor reported that it had issued a final rule 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.
These establishments are still required to electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses), however.
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.”
Most recently, on Jan. 2, OSHA began collecting the Form 300A data for the 2021 report. Electronic submissions were required by establishments with 250 or more employees currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records, and establishments with 20-249 employees classified in specific industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses.
Certain employers were required to submit their completed forms to OSHA by March 2.
COVID-19 Reporting, Vaccine Requirements
In September 2020, OSHA updated its Frequently Asked Questions forum regarding the need to report employees’ in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities resulting from work-related cases of COVID-19.
Among the updates, the FAQs provide guidance on how to calculate reporting deadlines for in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities, as well as clarifying the meaning of the term “incident” as it relates to work-related coronavirus in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities.
More recently, in January, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to block the Biden administration from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine-or-testing mandate for large employers, undermining President Joe Biden’s attempts to tame the virus from spreading.
While the ruling will no longer affect employers with 100 or more workers, the justices were reported to have allowed a requirement for health care workers at facilities that receive federal funding.
Previously, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration published an emergency temporary standard requiring employers with 100 or more employees to implement a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for their employees by Jan. 4.
Employers were also required to provide their employees with a weekly testing alternative to those who refuse or were unable to receive a vaccine, in addition to wearing a face covering at work in lieu of vaccination.
Moving forward, if the Biden administration or OSHA is to revisit the matter, the justices added that if more tailored regulations were established, the mandate could be lawful given that “most lifeguards and linemen face the same regulations as do medics and meatpackers.”
In a more modest victory for President Biden, in a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that health care employees working in facilities that received federal funding would still be required to follow the guidance requiring COVID-19 vaccinations or testing. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh were reported to have joined the liberal justices to form a majority.
Looking to current numbers of vaccinations in the country, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says only 63% of the nation is fully vaccinated and of that group, only 37% have received a booster shot.