OSHA Believes More Timely Data Will Help All
On November 7, 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officially announced that they have proposed a rule that would improve how workplace injuries and illnesses are tracked. The announcement came shortly after the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual Occupational Injuries and Illnesses report. The report estimated that three million workers were injured on the job in 2012.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, David Michaels had this to say of the proposed ruling:
Three million injuries are three million too many. With the changes being proposed in this rule, employers, employees, the government and researchers will have better access to data that will encourage earlier abatement of hazards and prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities. The proposal does not add any new requirement to keep records; it only modifies an employer’s obligation to transmit these records to OSHA.
Dr. David Michaels
The proposed rule will amend the regulation on annual OSHA injury and illness survey of ten or more employers to add three new electronic reporting requirements. The official Federal Register, released on November 8, by OSHA, confirms that the proposed ruling does not add to or change any employer’s obligation to complete and retain injury and illness records under OSHA’s regulations for recording and reporting occupational injuries and illnesses. It also states that the proposed rule does not add to or change the recording criteria or definitions for these records.
What Does It Do?
If implemented, the rule would simply modify the employers’ obligations to transmit information from their records to OSHA or OSHA’s designee. This recordkeeping amendment would require adding an electronic submission of injury and illness information to employers who are all ready required to keep under existing standards, Part 1904.
Summary of proposals:
- Establishments with more than 250 employees (and who are already required to keep records) to submit the records on a quarterly basis to OSHA.
- Establishments with 20 or more employees, in certain industries with high injury and illness rates, be required to submit electronically only their summary of work-related injuries an illnesses to OSHA once a year.
- OSHA will require all employers who receive notification from OSHA to electronically submit specified information from their Part 1904 injury and illness records to OSHA.
Here is a proposed mockup of the web-based mechanism for OSHA’s injury/illness data collection.
Dollars and Sense
OSHA has estimated that the new ruling would have an economic cost of $11.9 million per year. This would include $10.5 million per year to the private sector, with costs of $183 per year for affected establishments of 250 or more and $9 per year for establishments with 20 or more employees in designated areas. However, the agency believes the added benefits will significantly outweigh the costs.
- Better compliance with OSHA’s statutory directive.
- Timely access to information regarding workplace injuries/illnesses will increase workplace safety and significantly reduce injuries and illnesses.
- Improved research on occupational safety and health.
The public will have 90 days, through February 6, 2014, to submit written comments on the proposed rule. On January 9, 2014, OSHA will hold a public meeting on the proposed rule in Washington, D.C.