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The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration must make public workplace injuries and illnesses records, according to an announcement Wednesday by the Public Citizen Foundation, which sued the federal agency in 2018 over access.
The Washington-based organization said the federal agency has until Aug. 18 to provide the data of 237,000 employers, under a federal court ruling that ends a two-year battle over the agency’s controversial electronic record-keeping rule.
The regulation, formally known as the Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses rule, requires employers with 250 or more employees and certain employers in high-risk industries with 20 or more employees to electronically submit their injury and illness data to OSHA. The Obama administration planned to make that data public, which sparked controversy over OSHA’s ability to protect personal information.
Public Citizen used the Freedom of Information Act to request the information, which employers record on OSHA Form 300A and submit to the agency electronically. Public Citizen sued OSHA to obtain the records after the agency withheld the data in full, claiming that the records contained confidential commercial information exempt from disclosure.
Last month, a magistrate judge recommended that the court enter judgment for Public Citizen, finding that the records are not confidential. OSHA had until July 21 to object to the judge’s recommendation. Rather than object, OSHA agreed to produce the records in full, and the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia entered an order requiring that OSHA produce the requested records by Aug. 18, Public Citizen said in a statement.
A U.S. Department of Labor spokeswoman on Thursday said the agency had no comment.