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By Brad Sant, senior vice president of safety and education, ARTBA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) May 11 issued a new regulation that will require some employers to submit their injury and illness records electronically. The rule, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2017, allows OSHA to post these records online. The rule also prohibits employers from discouraging their workers from reporting an injury or illness. These “anti-discouragement” provisions become effective Aug. 10.

ARTBA commented on the proposed rule in March 2014, stating, “ … we are troubled the agency is proposing to allow immediate access to sensitive employer data to the general public. In the past, most data of this type was aggregated and made available to the public in a broad sense. Now the agency proposes to make employer-specific information available to anyone around the world.”

OSHA said it believes “public disclosure will encourage employers to improve workplace safety and provide valuable information to workers, job seekers, customers, researchers and the general public.

The amount of data submitted will vary depending on the size of company and type of industry.

Businesses with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017. These same employers will be required to submit information from all 2017 forms (300A, 300, and 301) by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.

Employers with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk industries—including transportation construction—must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017, and their 2017 Form 300A by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.

Under the whistleblower protections of Section 11(c), OSHA is granting itself the authority to issue a citation if the agency believes an employer has suppressed an employee from reporting an injury, regardless of whether an employee has filed claim. This directly contradicts the statute. This may be a means for OSHA to negate “safety incentive programs” as OSHA has long been concerned these suppress employees from reporting injuries.