Federal workplace regulator OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) announced they were suspending the requirement mandating companies submit employee injury logs. This was after the Center for Investigative Reporting showed the regulator failed to set up a website for the roughly 450,000 companies require to electronically submit data from their worker injury and illness logs. Even though the regulator was reportedly ready to launch a website with information for employers back in February, that site never posted. Instead, OSHA announced it wasn’t accepting electronic submissions of worker injury reports, and then later extended the deadline.
Critics worried at the time that even just a delay would potentially strip workers of key protections and allow companies to avoid accountability. A senior fellow at the National Employment Law Product was quoted by RevealNews.com as saying OSHA would not be able to focus its efforts on the most dangerous workplaces because it wouldn’t have data necessary to even identify those companies.
Now, in a lawsuit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the U.S. Department of Labor and OSHA, three non-profit public interest and research groups (Public Citizen Health Research Group, American Public Health Association and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists) allege OSHA and U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta are in violation of the law by failing to follow proper procedures by extending the work injury reporting deadline without allowing the public to weigh in – and then announcing it wouldn’t even accept data from the 450,000 companies subject to the rule.
A spokesperson for OSHA announced it would be rolling back parts of a rule from the previous administration that required detailed information of work injuries, instead only requiring summary data. Plaintiffs in the current case sought a court order that would require OSHA to both collect and publish the electronic data it has.
As an attorney for one of the plaintiffs noted, when OSHA first issued the rule requiring companies to electronically submit and publicly release data on workplace injuries, it did so with the understanding it was necessary to ensure workers had safer working conditions. The decision to suspend those requirements, the attorney stated, would be undercutting its central mission. The requirements were reportedly intended to encourage companies to improve their safety practices. Plaintiff groups had hoped to use the data in analysis to identify workplace safety trends.
Meanwhile, pro-business lobbyists say OSHA has done the right thing, as the environmental group had overstepped its authority in requiring the detailed work injury reports in the first place. The Center for Investigative Reporting has sought the work injury and illness data OSHA has collected via a Freedom of Information request, which was initially denied. The case is pending.
For the last two decades, OSHA has been collecting work injury and illness rates from tens of thousands of employers. However, that program ended in anticipation of the new heightened work injury reporting requirements. Those were finalized in 2016. Now, it appears we won’t be getting information on either, at least for some time.
Those who have been injured on-the-job in Orlando should contact an experienced Orlando workers’ compensation attorney for information on how we can help you secure critical benefits.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
OSHA won’t collect injury records. Lawsuit says that’s illegal, Aug. 1, 2018, By Jennifer Gollan, RevealNews.Com
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