Federal agencies Recordkeeping

Citing privacy concerns, OSHA to roll back electronic recordkeeping requirements

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Washington — OSHA is rescinding two major parts of its electronic recordkeeping rule, no longer requiring the submission of injury and illness data from Forms 300 and 301.

Despite the partial government shutdown that at press time had affected the Federal Register, the agency was set to publish its changes to the Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses final rule on Jan. 25.

OSHA now will require only the submission of Form 300A – an annual summary of injuries and illnesses – instead of the two more detailed forms from certain covered establishments. Those include establishments with 250 or more workers and with 20 to 249 employees in certain industries with historically high occupational injury and illness rates.

Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta has cited privacy concerns as one reason for the changes, but that explanation has faced criticism in certain circles.

Public Citizen Health Research Group, the American Public Health Association, and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists filed suit against OSHA because the agency initially announced on its website – instead of through a proposed rule – that it no longer was accepting Forms 300 and 301. The groups claim that action violates the notice-and-comment protocol as mandated in the Administrative Procedure Act, and Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Dec. 12 allowed the suit to proceed.

On July 30, OSHA issued a proposed rule, which underwent a relatively quick review by the White House Office of Budget and Management’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, former OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Jordan Barab wrote on his “Confined Space” website. The fall 2018 regulatory agenda estimated the new recordkeeping rule would be published in June.

 

The AFL-CIO and other unions requested a meeting with OIRA on Dec. 19 before the government shutdown, according to Politico, but the sub-agency did not respond to the request. Although those meetings are not required by law, Barab notes that “requests for meetings are almost never denied or ignored.”

In a statement issued Jan. 24, AFL-CIO Director Peg Seminario said the rollback “allows employers to hide their injury records and keep workers, the public and OSHA in the dark about dangerous conditions in American workplaces.” She added, “This backward action flies in the face of recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the public health community strongly endorsing the collection and use of this injury data for prevention.”

The deadline for 2018 Form 300A moves to March 2, beginning this year. For more information on submitting data, log on to OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application at osha.gov/injuryreporting.

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