• OSHA Proposes Requiring Employers to Submit Injury and Illness Records to an OSHA Website that will be Open to the Public
  • November 22, 2013
  • Law Firm: Constangy Brooks Smith LLP - Atlanta Office
  • On November 8, 2013, OSHA issued a proposed amendment to its occupational injury and illness recordkeeping rules that would require larger establishments to submit their OSHA 300 Logs, 301 Incident Reports, and 300A Annual Summaries to the Agency through a new website that will allow for public access to that information, except for the names and addresses of employees and treating physicians. Under the proposal, establishments that are currently required to keep an OSHA Log and that had at least 250 employees at any time during the previous calendar year would be required to submit all of the information from their Logs and Incident Reports to OSHA on a quarterly basis. Currently, OSHA only sees this information during the course of an on-site inspection.

    The proposal would also require that these larger establishments, and all other establishments with at least 20 employees at any time during the previous calendar year in certain designated industries, must submit the information from their 300A Annual Summary to the new OSHA injury and illness website on or before March 2 of each year. The industries are designated based on their having high injury and illness rates and include many of the same ones that are currently included in the OSHA Data Initiative, under which OSHA sends mandatory paper surveys each year to approximately 80,000 selected establishments seeking their 300A information. OSHA uses the 300A survey information to calculate the establishments' injury and illness rates, which are then used to target high-rate establishments for comprehensive safety and health inspections under OSHA's Site Specific Targeting (SST) enforcement program. A list of the designated industries, which include all of manufacturing, construction, and agriculture, is set out below.

    In addition to the proposal putting a much greater volume of establishment-specific injury and illness information in the hands of OSHA, which has acknowledged that it would use the additional information to conduct targeted inspections, the information would also be accessible by the public at large via a searchable website database. It would be readily available for unions, public interest groups, the media, and any other individuals or organizations to use for any purpose. For example, a union could use the information as an organizing tool, a reporter could publish the information, and a disgruntled former employee could base a complaint to OSHA on it. Employees also could easily access the information to confirm that their employer has recorded the injuries and illnesses that occur, and complain to OSHA if they are not satisfied that a case was recorded or recorded properly. In addition, while OSHA says that the names and addresses submitted with the information will be secured from public access, there is always some risk that the website could be hacked and the personal information disclosed to the public.

    Comments on the proposed rule may be submitted to OSHA for review within the 90-day period ending on February 6, 2014. In addition to taking written comments, OSHA plans to hold a public meeting on the proposed rule in Washington, D.C. on January 9, 2014. Instructions for submitting comments, as well as the text of the proposed rule, can be found at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-11-08/pdf/2013-26711.pdf..