U.S. employers with 250 or more employees will no longer be required to submit certain injury and illness information to OSHA, after the agency controversially rescinded two major components of its its electronic record-keeping rule.
In 2016, OSHA amended its record-keeping regulation to require employers to annually submit to certain injury and illness information to an online OSHA portal. This was information that employers were already required to record in OSHA Forms 300, 300A, and 301.
However, OSHA has now decided that companies with 250 or more employees will no longer be required to submit information from Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and Form 301. Instead, OSHA will only require the information on Form 300A – an annual summary of injuries and illnesses.
In a statement, OSHA cited worker privacy as the reason for the roll back, claiming that data from Forms 300 and 301 “would subject sensitive worker information to a meaningful risk of public disclosure.”
“By preventing routine government collection of information that may be quite sensitive, including descriptions of workers’ injuries and body parts affected, OSHA is avoiding the risk that such information might be publicly disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).”
“This rule will better protect personally identifiable information or data that could be re-identified with a particular worker by removing the requirement for covered employers to submit their information from Forms 300 and 301.”
The Obama-era 2016 regulation was, in part, designed to improve injury and illness transparency. Injury and illness data would have been made readily available on OSHA’s website, allowing workers to judge the relative safety of their employers, whilst also allowing employers to benchmark themselves against competitors.
Jordan Barab, who was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor at OSHA from 2009 to 2017, said the 2016 regulation would have “increased our understanding of workplace injuries and illnesses, and made work safer for millions of American workers.”
“What we have here is the business community’s continuing effort to ensure that the public has as little information as possible about workplace injuries and illnesses — and why they happen — in American workplaces.”
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) Director Peg Seminario said the rollback would allow employers to “hide their injury records and keep workers, the public and OSHA in the dark about dangerous conditions in American workplaces.”
“This backward action flies in the face of recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the public health community strongly endorsing the collection and use of this injury data for prevention.”
The decision is expected to be challenged in court.