OSHA’s Injury/Illness Database to Go Public

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a “final rule” that establishes a new system with regard to reporting employee illness and injury. Greater transparency can only benefit workers and those who follow the law by publicly revealing the workplaces with higher incidences of injuries. It is indeed good news for employees and job-seekers.

Currently, employers keep logs of work-related incidents. These logs can be seen by employees and by OSHA inspectors. But under the new rule, “high-hazard industries” with 250 or more employees are required to send OSHA detailed injury and illness data electronically. OSHA defines the following as high-hazard industries:

  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Freight trucking
  • Waste collection
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Grocery stores.

One way in which this new system might help is in pinpointing problems at certain companies. For example, if one nursing home has five times the rate of back injuries when compared with another area nursing home, then that can be a red flag both for OSHA inspectors and for potential employees.

However, rest assured, if you sustain an injury, no personal or identifying information about you will be published in the database. OSHA will post the names of workplaces and list specific injuries and illnesses, but will delete any data that might make it easy to identify individuals.

  • Employers will be required to comply partially by electronically submitting the proper OSHA form on or before July 1, 2017.
  • Those with 250 or more employees will need to be in full compliance by July 1, 2018.
  • All employers with at least 20 employees are required to be in full compliance by March 1, 2019.

For reporting purposes, OSHA defines an employee to include part-time, temporary, and seasonal workers. Essentially, any person employed at any time now counts as an employee for the purposes of reporting injuries and illnesses.

The director of OSHA, David Michaels, cited the lessons of behavioral economics as among the reasons for the changes. “We will now make public all this information and try to do it in a way that really encourages employees to take action to reduce injuries,” Michaels explained. “Making information public affects behavior. If you’re looking for a new job, you might want to work at an establishment where you don’t have a high likelihood of being injured.”

One last point: this new final rule also includes substantial changes to OSHA’s abilities to go after retaliation and discrimination violations. The violations can be pursued by OSHA even if no employee has filed a complaint. These new retaliation and discrimination violations protections become effective August 10, 2016.

When something goes wrong, we are left to wonder.

State and federal agencies, including OSHA, have strict guidelines and regulations to keep workers safe while they are doing their jobs. In some cases, employers might ignore these regulations or fail to ensure they are properly followed. In such a situation, a case can sometimes be made for negligence. Where machines or equipment are involved, there can also be questions of malfunctions because of manufacturer’s defects or improper maintenance.

With over 30 years’ experience handling workplace injury claims in Indiana, let McNeely Stephenson put their resources to work for you. You may be eligible for compensation to assist you with medical bills and other financial obligations. If you would like to explore your options, contact Mike Stephenson at 1-317-825-5200, or use our online form. At McNeely Stephenson, we believe justice matters.