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Legal: Comment period for OSHA’s Proposed Rule extended

Jeff Jones
Wednesday, Apr 2, 2014

In a Proposed Rule issued Nov. 8, 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration wants to add more regulatory compliance for businesses subject to OSHA recordkeeping rules. Intended to “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, ” by amending 29 CFR1904.41, the rule would add three electronic reporting requirements for businesses already subject to OSHA recordkeeping rules (“covered businesses”).

OSHA’s first proposal would require covered businesses with 250 or more employees to submit information electronically to OSHA on a quarterly basis using information from records kept under Part 1904, including the individual entries on the OSHA Form 300 and the information entered on each OSHA Form 301; summary data from Form 300A would be submitted annually.

The rule would also require covered businesses with 20 or more employees in designated industries to submit information from the Summary Form (Form 300A) annually, replacing the current requirement in Section 1904.41(a) for employers receiving OSHA’s annual survey form to complete and submit. Industries subject to this requirement would include industries such as utilities, construction, manufacturing, automotive parts, furniture stores, home health care services, nursing care facilities, and a wide range of other covered businesses, as listed in Appendix A of the Proposed Rule.

The third proposal would require all employers directly notified by OSHA to submit electronically specified information from their Part 1904 Injury and Illness Records to OSHA for the time period and at the intervals specified by OSHA.

OSHA intends to make the collected data (unless protected by FOIA, the Privacy Act or specific Part 1904 provisions) available to the public and “ensures” that the names of employees with recorded injuries or illnesses are removed from any published information. OSHA intends to provide a secure website for data reporting and collection by covered businesses, who, after registration, will be assigned a log-in ID and password.

According to OSHA, benefits to the proposed rule include increased workplace safety from expanded OSHA access to timely injury/illness information...that will allow OSHA “to identify the workplaces where workers are at greatest risk.... and “to target its compliance assistance and enforcement efforts accordingly.” OSHA further notes “public access to this information will allow current employees to compare their workplaces to the best workplaces for safety and health and will allow potential employees to make more informed decisions about potential places of employment” and “will allow members of the public to make more informed decisions about current and potential companies with which to do business.”

Many business leaders have expressed several concerns about the Proposed Rule, such as that public posting of the information may be misused or misinterpreted by readers. The original deadline for comments, Feb. 6, was extended to March 10.

Jeffrey G. Jones is a regional managing member for Wimberly Lawson Wright Daves & Jones PLLC. He can be reached at jjones@wimberlylawson.com.


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