OSHA’s proposed rule to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses has raised some concerns for members of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and RIMS, the Risk Management Society. Due to these concerns, OSHA has extended the commenting period by 30 days. The rule would require the nation’s 38,000 establishments with more than 250 employees to electronically submit the records on a quarterly basis to OSHA. As for the 440,000 U.S. companies with more than 20 employees but fewer than 250, they would be required to electronically submit their report of injuries and illnesses once a year.
ASSE concerns stem from OSHA’s objectives lacking clarity and a strong rationale for these new requirements. The group does not believe that OSHA has explained how collecting the information on the proposed schedule will help to improve workplace safety or how the agency will manage the information once it is received. ASSE believes that publishing the data will make it more difficult for safety professionals to focus companies on preventing hazards instead of reporting injuries.
The American Industrial Hygiene Association raised some concerns as well stating that “shifting resources from prevention activities to data management in all size establishments would be detrimental to making the workplace safer.”
When announcing the proposal, OSHA stated that employers, employees, the government and researchers will have better access to data that will encourage the reduction of hazards in the workplace, which will result in improved programs and injuries, illnesses and fatalities. “The proposed rule does not add any new requirement to keep records; it only modifies an employer’s obligation to transmit these records to OSHA.”