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OSHA seeks to make workplace injury records public

From the November 8, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published November 8, 2013

By Robert Varela
Editorial Director
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a proposal Nov. 7 to require large companies to submit workplace injury and illness records electronically, with plans to eventually post the data online. The proposed rule would apply to companies with more than 250 employees and companies that have more than 20 employees and that are in certain industries with high injury and illness rates—which includes utilities.

State and local government workers are excluded from federal coverage under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. However, states operating their own state workplace safety and health programs under plans approved by the U.S. Department of Labor are required to extend their coverage to public sector (state and local government) workers in the state. Twenty-two states and territories operate plans covering both the public and private sectors and five jurisdictions--Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and the Virgin Islands--operate public employee-only plans. More information on coverage of public sector workers is available on OSHA’s website.

The proposed rule does not add to or change any employer’s obligations to complete and retain the injury and illness records, OSHA emphasized.

Establishments with more than 250 employees (that are already required to keep records) would have to submit the records electronically to OSHA on a quarterly basis. Utilities and establishments in higher risk industries with 20 or more employees would be required to submit electronically only their summary of work-related injuries and illnesses to OSHA once a year. Currently, many such firms report this information under OSHA's Data Initiative, the agency said.

OSHA said it intends to make the data it collects public, but the publication of specific data elements will in part be restricted by provisions of the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act. OSHA may make the following data from the various forms available in a searchable online database:
  • All data fields from the OSHA Form 300A (summary form)
  • All data fields from the OSHA Form 300 (log) except the employee's name
  • The data fields on the right side of the OSHA Form 301 (incident report), i.e., case number, date of injury or illness, time employee began work, time of event, what the employee was doing just before the incident occurred, what happened, what the injury or illness was, what object or substance directly harmed the employee, and the date of death if applicable.
The agency posted a mockup of the database on its website. 

The proposed rule and additional information are available on OSHA’s website.

The public will have 90 days, through Feb. 6, 2014, to submit written comments on the proposed rule. On Jan. 9, 2014, OSHA will hold a public meeting on the proposed rule in Washington, D.C. A Federal Register notice announcing the public meeting will be published shortly, OSHA said.


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Senior Vice President, Publishing 
Jeanne Wickline LaBella

Editorial Director
Robert Varela

Editor, Public Power Daily
Jeannine Anderson

Communications Assistant
Fallon W. Forbush

Manager, Integrated Media 
David L. Blaylock

Integrated Media Editor 
Laura D’Alessandro