OSHA has published a proposed rule to put back in place and expand Obama-era requirements for high-hazard employers with at least 100 employees to submit their injury and illness forms electronically to the agency.
Increased reporting requirements will hit construction firms particularly hard, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that approximately 150,000 construction workers (about one in 10) experience an on-the-job injury each year. Until now, the agency had required fewer employers to submit electronic reports with less detailed information.
In 2018, the Trump Administration’s OSHA modified the Obama-era rule to ease industry concerns that the agency might use electronic injury and illness reports to shame employers by publishing the information on its website, which could be viewed by news media, unions, industry competitors, and the public. Thus, OSHA limited the original rule to requiring employers to electronically submit only summary data on OSHA Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses).
Under the Biden Administration, OSHA proposed not only to return to the Obama-era rule originally promulgated in 2016 but to expand the number of firms that must comply with it by dropping the number of employees from 250 to 100. According to one source, the threshold drop would add more than 9,300 construction firms to OSHA’s new electronic recordkeeping requirement.
Addressing previously raised privacy concerns in its proposal, OSHA said, “[R]ecent advancements in technology [that] have reduced the risk that information that reasonably identifies individuals directly, such as name and contact information, will be disclosed to the public.”
The agency hopes that expanding the electronic reporting mandate will provide analysis of “establishment-specific, case-specific injury and illness data” that will enable the agency to focus compliance efforts on particular employers and industries. OSHA confirmed that it intends to make aspects of the information publicly available.
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Blaine J. Hoffmann has been in the occupational safety & health industry for over 27 years. He is the producer and host of The SafetyPro Podcast and the founder of the SafetyPro Podcast Community Site.