Employers across the U.S. will soon have to submit electronic injury and illness reports to regulators at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in addition to maintaining their own onsite reports.
This new requirement, which will take effect on January 1, 2017, is the result of a new OSHA rule that is aimed at enriching the workplace injury data available to regulators in order to help them improve “safety for workers across the country.”
Specifically, the hope is that:
- With far more data at hand, regulators will be empowered to use their “enforcement and compliance assistance resources more efficiently.”
- The added level of transparency will motivate employers to maintain safe workplaces, which is the key to saving “the lives and limbs of many workers.”
Details of the New OSHA Rule
As OSHA has explained, the new reporting requirement for employers will have different provisions (and data submission requirements) for different industries, as well as for employers of different sizes. Currently, regulators are planning to have the rule’s requirements roll out via the following phases:
- 2016 injury and illness data for employers with at least 20 employees must be electronically submitted to OSHA by July 2017.
- 2017 reports will have to be submitted by July 2018.
- After that, these reports will be due to regulators no later than March 2nd (the following year).
OSHA has also explained that state OSHA programs must institute “requirements that are substantially identical to the requirements in this final rule.”
In addition to these mandates, the new rule also provides anti-retaliation protections for workers, with those slated to take effect this coming November. These protections:
- Ban “employers from discouraging workers from reporting an injury or illness”
- Mandate that employers notify workers of their rights to report workplace injuries and illness, including their right to protection from retaliation
- Provide more details about the “implicit requirement” that employers have “reasonable” procedures for making injury/illness reports (with “reasonable” meaning that the process isn’t a deterrent to making these reports).
Commenting on this new rule, Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, has noted that:
Our new rule will ‘nudge’ employers to prevent work injuries to show investors, job seekers, customers and the public they operate safe and well-managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target compliance assistance and enforcement resources, and enable ‘big data’ researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer.
What do you think of this new OSHA rule? Do you agree that it will be effective at enhancing workplace safety for Americans? Share your opinions and comments with us on Facebook & Google+.
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