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OSHA Issues Final Rule on Electronic Recordkeeping

On May 12, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule — “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses” — requiring employers to electronically submit injury and illness recordkeeping information to OSHA on an annual basis. OSHA will post the data submitted by employers on a publicly accessible website, but according to the final rule, OSHA “does not intend to post any information on the website that could be used to identify individual employees.”

The concerns that CUPA-HR and other employer groups expressed in comments on the proposed rule in March 2014 still remain. Specifically, the comments note that OSHA will be making this data public without context, and as a result the information will not accurately reflect employers’ safety records. Many injuries that have no bearing on an employer’s safety program will be recorded (such as accidents outside the employer’s control), and the employer’s injury and illness rates over time as compared to similarly-sized employers in the same industry facing the same challenges will not be available, leaving the data highly vulnerable to misinterpretation. The only significant change DOL made to the proposal in the final rule is that quarterly reporting by employers with 250 or more employees will not be required — instead all reporting will be done annually.

The final rule also includes updates on how employers inform employees to report work-related injuries or illnesses. Specifically, the final rule requires employers to inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries without fear of retaliation and that an employer’s method for reporting work-related injuries must be reasonable and not discourage employees from reporting. The final rule states that a “method” is not reasonable if it would deter or discourage employees from reporting injuries or illnesses — leaving significant areas of uncertainty as to what constitutes an “unreasonable” procedure with respect to employee injury reporting procedures.

The anti-retaliation provisions in the final rule become effective August 10, 2016, while the electronic reporting requirements start to take effect on January 1, 2017. See the press release, a fact sheet and a resource page on the final rule.

CUPA-HR is still in the process of reviewing the final rule and will provide updates as necessary.

 

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