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Privacy concerns may stall OSHA record-keeping move

Posted On: Dec. 19, 2017 10:53 AM CST

Privacy concerns may stall OSHA record-keeping move

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration may pull back on requiring employers to electronically submit certain injury and illness reports amid privacy concerns.

The agency’s Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses rule requires certain employers to submit electronically injury and illness data they already record via on-site OSHA injury and illness forms. Establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the record-keeping regulation — as well as those with 20 to 249 employees in high-risk industries such as agriculture, forestry, construction and manufacturing — must submit information on their injuries and illnesses.

However, the agency is reviewing other provisions of its final rule and intends to publish a notice of proposed rule-making to reconsider, revise or remove portions of the rule in 2018.

“It may be back to the drawing board for OSHA,” Tressi Cordaro, a shareholder with law firm Jackson Lewis P.C. based in Reston, Virginia, wrote in a blog post on Monday.

The Trump administration’s Fall 2017 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions published on Thursday proposed removing the requirement to electronically submit OSHA Form 300, the log of work-related injuries and illnesses, and OSHA Form 301, the injury and illness incident reports.  

Employers would only be required to submit electronically information from OSHA Form 300A, the summary of work-related injuries and illnesses – a recognition of employer concerns about the ability of the agency to protect personally identifiable information as Form 300A does not contain such information, unlike Forms 300 and 301.

“If OSHA were unable to publish the collected worker injury and illness data because it cannot guarantee the non-release of personally identifiable information, then the potential benefit of improved workplace safety and health through publication of the collected data would not be realized,” the administration said in the agenda.

“OSHA has now admitted it cannot guarantee that (personally identifiable information) will not be released,” Ms. Cordaro said. “If that is the case, the agency will not make the information publicly available.” 

OSHA announced on Monday it will not take enforcement action against employers who submit their 300A reports after the Dec. 15 deadline, but before the Dec. 31 final entry date.

In addition, OSHA is seeking comment on the costs and benefits of adding the employer identification number to data collection to increase the likelihood that the Bureau of Labor Statistics would be able to match OSHA-collected data with the bureau’s survey of occupational injury and illness data, potentially reducing reporting burdens for employers.