Today, OSHA issued its final injury reporting rule, which will take effect August 10.
The rule requires all establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by OSHA’s recordkeeping regulation to electronically submit to OSHA injury and illness information from OSHA Forms 300, 300A, and 301. Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain industries must electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A only. The rule also promotes an employee’s right to report injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation, and clarifies that an employer must have a reasonable procedure for reporting work-related injuries that does not discourage employees from reporting.
Traditionally, employers keep this information internally within their businesses, and only provide it to OHSA upon request during an investigation. With employers now required to submit this information electronically to OSHA, it will become publicly available for anyone to review.
According to a blog post by Deputy Secretary Labor David Lu, the rule is designed with the idea that transparent information makes safer workplaces:
We know that employers want to keep workers safe on the job. But without access to all injury information, employers cannot compare their safety records with other businesses in their industry. The final rule will enable employers to benchmark their safety and health performance against industry leaders, encouraging them to improve their safety programs. Additionally, the rule allows industry researchers to better understand the causes of recurring injuries and identify emerging health hazards that would be difficult to detect by looking at the data of a single employer.
You can imagine my skepticism. Public information also makes for more lawsuits and more active labor unions. Nevertheless, electronic injury reporting will be reality starting this August.