OSHA is receiving comments until September 28, 2018 on its July 30, 2018 proposed rule to eliminate the requirement to electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses), and OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report) for establishments with 250 or more employees. These forms electronically submit sensitive and detailed information about workers' injuries and illnesses so OSHA is particularly interested in the proposed rule’s impact on worker privacy, including the risks posed by exposing workers’ sensitive information. The requirement for these establishments to submit information from OSHA Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) still stands.
Will the rule rollback compromise worker safety?
Many groups are passionate about the original rule’s benefits and burdens. Although there are many points of discussion, one rule advocate viewpoint is that the rollback will hurt worker protection by eliminating the ability to identify companies who are able to cover up dangerous conditions.
Several points of concern have fueled opposition to the rule.
Amid the contentious history, rule delays, and controversy, confusion and unease surround many issues including:
- Confusion on compliance dates;
- Fear that posted information would prompt future inspections;
- Concern that employee sensitive information would be made public under the Freedom of Information Act;
- Worry of presenting a one-sided view of a company’s safety program to the public; and
- Violation of First and Fifth Amendment rights.
A March 2018 Bloomberg Environment report indicates OSHA anticipated 350,000, 2016 injury reports from worksites and received only 153,653. Of those reports, 60,992 came from employers who were not required to send information.
In justifying the rule rollback, OSHA has indicated that the risk of exposing sensitive worker information; the cost to OSHA of collecting the data; and the financial burden of employer reporting outweighs the benefits of the current rule.
“This proposal maintains safety and health protections for workers while protecting sensitive worker information from public disclosure. The data OSHA continues to collect is robust and enables the agency to most effectively protect workers on the job,” said Megan Sweeney, U.S. Department of Labor Communications Director in statements to NBC News.
Diana Ludwig, STSC
Project Manager, Health & Safety Services
Contact Diana at firstname.lastname@example.org.