On July 30, 2018, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 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). The proposed rule applies only to establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to maintain injury and illness records. Under the proposed rule, these employers would only be required to electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses).
According to OSHA, its intention is to protect sensitive worker information from potential disclosure under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). OSHA states that the risk of disclosure of this information, its costs of collecting and using the information, and the reporting burden on employers, are unjustified given the uncertain benefits of collecting the information. OSHA believes that this proposal maintains safety and health protections for workers while also reducing the compliance burden on employers.
OSHA is also proposing to require covered employers to submit their Employer Identification Number (EIN) electronically along with their injury and illness data submission.
Didn’t the Electronic Filing Requirement Just Begin?
The rule requiring electronic submission of these forms was implemented by the Obama administration and went into effect, after delays, in December 2017. At that time, OSHA stated it believed that public disclosure would encourage employers to improve workplace safety and provide valuable information to workers, job seekers, customers, researchers, and the general public.
The rule aimed to improve safety for workers across the county under the rationale that making injury information publicly available would “nudge” employers to focus on safety. Additionally, OSHA believed electronic submission would improve the accuracy of data by reducing the risk of retaliation to workers for reporting injuries or illnesses and also allow more efficient analysis and dissemination of this data. Clearly, all this analysis has been reconsidered.
OSHA is seeking comment on these proposed rules, particularly on their impact on worker privacy, including the risks posed by exposing workers’ sensitive information to possible FOIA disclosure. Comments must be submitted to OSHA by September 28, 2018, and must reference docket number OSHA-2013-0023 or regulatory information number (RIN) 1218-AD17.
In the meantime, these are proposed rules and employers must continue to comply with their current OSHA reporting requirements by electronically submitting, if applicable, their injury and illness data.
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