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Groups file motion to intervene in lawsuit against OSHA recordkeeping rule

Photo: Ridofranz/iStockphoto

Washington – Several public health advocacy groups have filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit that aims to undo OSHA’s requirement for employers to electronically submit worker injury and illness data for public view.

On March 21, organizations including watchdog group Public Citizen, the American Public Health Association, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, and the Center for Media and Democracy filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. The groups argue that they are entitled to act as defendants in the lawsuit, which was filed against OSHA by the National Association of Home Builders and other industry groups.

The Improve Tracking of Workplace Illnesses and Injuries final rule went into effect Jan. 1. The industry groups filed a lawsuit three days later, claiming OSHA had no authority to issue the requirements.

The rule states that establishments with at least 250 workers must electronically submit to OSHA data from OSHA forms 300, 300A and 301 annually. Establishments with 20 to 249 employees in select high-hazard industries are required to submit information from their annual summary form, OSHA Form 300A.

The National Association of Home Builders and other groups claim that OSHA’s intent to make the data public “exposes a business to significant reputational harm, all without demonstrating any evidence that it would effectively reduce workplace injuries and illnesses.”

However, Public Citizen and other groups who filed the motion to intervene say the rule will improve data collection that can be used to identify injury and illness trends and improve worker protections.

“Under the new administration, which has vowed to repeal and weaken key safeguards that protect workers’ health and safety, this rule is needed more than ever,” Dr. Sammy Almashat, researcher with Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, said in a press release. “These data are critical to our mission as researchers seeking to reduce hazards that workers face on the job.”

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