May 05, 2016

OSHA Electronic Injury Reporting Rule Looming As White House Approves

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The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is moving forward with a new regulatory rule that would expand electronic recordkeeping requirements for workplace injuries and illnesses and make such records publicly available, despite consistent objections from employers and their advocates.

Things to know:

  • White House has approved the bill
  • Final rule is not yet published
  • Increased costs to businesses could exceed $1.1 billion in year one

The White House has signed off on a controversial new regulatory rule that proposed to expand electronic recordkeeping requirements for workplace injuries and illnesses and make such records publicly available. Previously, we covered the comprehensive recordkeeping rules that took effect on January 1, 2015.

The Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs completed its review on Friday, April 29th, 2016 after receiving the proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Labor on Oct. 5, 2015. The final rule has not yet been published, but the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has gotten authority from the office to publish the rule with unknown changes.

In November 2013, OSHA proposed amending its regulations for recording and reporting occupational injuries or illnesses to add new electronic reporting requirements, with the stated intention of making this information public, despite consistent objections from employers and their advocates about the potential consequences of publishing the information both for the companies and injured employees.

One of the major issues employers are having with the publishing of information is around the timing of incident reporting and investigation. It is extremely difficult to conduct a complete and thoughtful incident report in a short period of time. Once the incident report is submitted electronically, the looming concern is employers would be bound to whatever was entered during the initial time period of the investigation. It is very important for the person submitting the report the facts they’re entirely sure about, without entering analysis.

In August 2014, OSHA issued a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking for this rule that included provisions that would prohibit employers from taking adverse action (termination, reduction in pay, reassignment to less desirable position) against employees for reporting injuries and illnesses. After public hearings and public comments were submitted on the proposed and supplemental rule, OSHA finalized the rule and sent the rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in October 2015 for review.

The electronic recordkeeping rule was not determined to be “economically significant,” according to the information and regulatory affairs office website. OSHA previously estimated the proposed rule would cost businesses about $11.9 million a year. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce argued that this number significantly underestimated the increased costs associated with companies more closely scrutinizing whether an injury or illness is recordable and reportable and that the expense would exceed $1.1 billion in the initial year, according to public comments submitted by the organization to OSHA in March 2014.

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