Thursday, May 18, 2017

Feds suspend rule requiring injury and illness reports to be filed electronically; blocks disclosure

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Labor suspended an Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule, issued late in the Obama administration, "requiring that companies electronically report their injury and illness records, a move that effectively keeps these records from being publicly disclosed for the immediate future," Juliet Eilperin reports for The Washington Post.

"Companies have been required to maintain worker injury and illness logs since 1971, and between 1995 and 2012, OSHA had required about 180,000 establishments in high-hazard industries such as manufacturing and nursing homes to submit the summary data by mail," Eilperin writes. "But the program cost $2 million a year to run, and officials decided to expand the requirement and transition it to an electronic system instead."

"The rule, which covered nearly 441,000 workplaces, took effect Jan. 1 and employers were obligated to send in their summary data by July 1," Eilperin notes. "But OSHA never launched the website for companies to submit the information, and it posted language Wednesday with an existing fact sheet saying it 'is not accepting electronic submissions of injury and illness logs at this time, and intends to propose extending the July 1, 2017 date by which certain employers are required to submit the information' to the agency."

Several business groups, led by the Associated Builders and Contractors, Associated General Contractors of America and the National Association of Home Builders, sud to overturn the rule "and lobbied the administration to jettison it on the grounds that it could unfairly damage the reputation of some of their members," Eilperin reports.

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