WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says it plans to rescind part of its 2017 record-keeping regulation to protect the privacy of employees hurt on the job — though not everyone is happy about the idea.
OSHA has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) “to better protect personally identifiable information or data that could be re-identified with a particular individual by removing provisions of the ‘Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses’ rule,” the agency said in a release.
OSHA said it believes the proposal maintains safety and health protections for workers, protects privacy and reduces the burdens of complying with the current rule. Some groups have come out in favor of the change, including the National Roofing Contractors Association, which stated on its website that it was "pleased" with the proposal as it "has been pushing for this change because of the rule's privacy issues."
The proposed rule eliminates 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) for establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to maintain injury and illness records. These establishments would be required to electronically submit information only from OSHA Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses).
Under the current recordkeeping rule, the deadline for electronic submission of calendar year 2017 information from OSHA Forms 300 and 301 was July 1, 2018. In subsequent years, the deadline is March 2.
OSHA said it is not currently accepting the Form 300 or 301 data and will not enforce the deadlines for these two forms without further notice while this rulemaking is underway. The electronic portal collecting Form 300A data is accepting calendar year 2017 data, although submissions after July 1, 2018, will be marked late.
The preliminary draft of the notice of the proposed change was published “for informational purposes only” pending publication in the Federal Register to make it official.
Not everyone is happy with the proposed changes.
Three public advocacy groups filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging OSHA’s suspension of parts of the tracking rule. The complaint claims, among other things, that the data collected by OSHA helps improve workplace safety practices. The complaint seeks a court order to halt the changes.
“The electronic recordkeeping rule is vital to worker safety. OSHA’s turnabout flouts the law and will needlessly harm workers across the country,” said Sean Sherman, an attorney for the Washington, D.C.-based Public Citizen Health Research Group. “Public Citizen and other worker advocacy organizations planned to use OSHA’s data to conduct research on occupational health and safety, analyze the most serious workplace threats and push for stronger regulatory protections.”