The Occupational Safety and Health Administration made a significant change to injury reporting requirements just a few years ago, increasing the responsibility of larger companies. Now, the federal health and safety regulator plans to relax many, but not all, of those additional rules related to workplace injuries and illnesses. President Donald Trump's administration and OSHA believe the changes will help address worker privacy concerns. Critics of the move, including labor organizations and advocates, feel the change will make it harder to determine the type and nature of injuries incurred by workers on the job, The Hill reported.
"OSHA believes worker privacy will improve with the rule change."
An informational release from OSHA, issued in late July, indicated the federal watchdog issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking related to the recordkeeping rule. OSHA believes the change leads to a more effective position on worker privacy while maintaining the health and safety considerations that fall directly under the organization's remit. The concern centers around the possibility that specific information related to an employee injury or illness could, in certain circumstances, be used by outside parties to positively identify thatworker as the person named in the reporting.
Specifically, OSHA's rule change would eliminate the need for businesses employing 250 people or more to comply with rules related to recording and submitting injury and illness information. These companies would no longer need to electronically share Form 300, which serves as a log of work-related illnesses andinjuries,and Form 301, which is an injury and illness incident report. Instead, businesses would only need to share data compiled for Form 300A, which is the summary of work-related illnesses and injuries.
Business & Legal Resources said the change was spurred in part by the need to redirect resources to manage and derive value from the highly detailed data shared in such reporting. To extract meaningful insight from the forms would require major operational changes on the federal regulator's part. OSHA also believes a reduction in reporting requirements means savings for employers that would otherwise have to invest time and labor into preparing and sharing these forms. The agency pegged the total savings for all businesses at approximately $8.2 million per year.
The initial rule change that increased reporting requirements, finalized in 2016, also included antiretaliation provisions that aimed to prevent businesses from acting against workers who reported injuries and required them to offer employees reasonable reporting channels. These rules, which have been clarified by OSHA as imposing restrictions on some kinds of post-accident drug testing and incentive programs tied to safety, have not changed. While businesses have an opportunity to lessen their reporting requirements, they need to remain aware of the parts of the rule that haven't changed.