New OSHA Rule to Modernize Worker Injury and Illness Report System

According to the Department of Labor, an estimated three million workers get injured or ill on the job each year.  There is currently, little or no information about worker injuries and illnesses at individual employers that is made public or available to OSHA. This is about to change with a new federal regulation issued by the Labor Department. Under the new rule, employers in high-hazard industries will send OSHA injury and illness data for posting on the agency’s website. “Since high injury rates are a sign of poor management, no employer wants to be seen publicly as operating a dangerous workplace,” said Assistant Secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.

The rule has stirred a long-running debate between workplace safety regulators and businesses. While regulators believe that transparent records will enable prospective employees to identify workplaces where their risk of injury is lowest; employers feel that sensitive information could be taken out of context and damage employers’ brands with little benefit to safety.

High-hazard industries to be included in providing the DOL with injury reports include everything from construction and manufacturing to grocery stores, nursing care facilities and hospitals. Using the data collected under the new rule, OSHA will create the largest publicly available data set on work injuries and illnesses, enabling researchers to better study injury causation, identify new workplace safety hazards before they become widespread and evaluate the effectiveness of injury and illness prevention activities.