Reaction to OSHA’s Latest Proposal: What’s your opinion?

OSHA’s new proposal could have businesses reporting their workplace injuries and illnesses to OSHA electronically on a quarterly basis. Quarterly reporting would apply to businesses that are currently required to keep injury and illness records with 250 employees or more. OSHA is also proposing that businesses with 20 or more employees in high-risk industries be required to submit a summary of work-related injuries and illnesses annually. According to Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, “This proposal does not add any new requirement to keep records; it only modifies and employer’s obligation to transmit these records to OSHA. We encourage the public to review this proposed rule and look forward to their comments.”  

Naturally many businesses have already balked at the idea, worried that this reporting will paint them in a bad light, without OSHA getting the full story.  Eventually, OSHA plans to post the data online per President Obama’s Open Government Initiative.  Another concern is that this will actually lower the percentage of work-related injuries and illness that get reported.

OSHA hopes this proposal will keep employers accountable, and aid them in comparing their injury rates with others in the same industry. It also will alleviate the pressure on the 2,400 OSHA auditors who are charged with covering almost eight million workplaces according to Dr. Michaels. OSHA has support in this as well. Barbara Dawson, President of American Industrial Hygiene Association® (AIHA) says “The proposal will increase the focus of senior managers on injury and illness data and encourage employers to do the right thing for their workers.” In my last blog I wrote about a company that had a recent OSHA audit and received citations, and I will reiterate here that it’s time to stop leaving safety to someone whose full time job is not safety. Whether or not that company’s senior managers were focused on injury and illness data, they fell short. This proposal (among others) will push workplace safety programs to the top of the agenda for many businesses.

The public has until February 6, 2014 to submit written comments on the proposed rule here. What do you think?