OSHA Rolls Back Obama-Era Reporting Requirements to Protect Employee Privacy
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has abandoned yet another Obama-era initiative. On January 24, 2019, it issued a new rule eliminating the controversial requirement that larger employers electronically file information on work-related injuries and illnesses.
Noting that such filings often contain sensitive information, such as descriptions of employee injuries, location of the event, date of injury, and employee's date of birth—which could potentially lead to identification of the person or persons involved—OSHA concluded that electronic filing could risk disclosure of sensitive personal information due to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act.
The new rule, which becomes effective on February 25, 2019, is intended "to improve enforcement targeting and compliance assistance, protect worker privacy and safety, and decrease burden on employers."
While employers no longer are required to submit this information electronically, they are still required to maintain it onsite through OSHA Forms 300 and 301, which OSHA may review and obtain through inspections and enforcement actions. Additionally, the new rule does not impact the mandate that employers electronically file information from OSHA Form 300A: Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. Employers also now will be required to submit their Employer Identification Number with the information from Form 300A—which, OSHA said, will make the data more useful in enforcement activities.
Employers should keep in mind that required documentation such as Forms 300 and 301 are among the first things OSHA inspectors will ask to see in an inspection. This rule change may serve as a good reminder that these should be up to date and complete. Employers may wish to take this opportunity to review their forms and OSHA compliance in general.
Despite these changes, the deadline for employers required to report this information remains March 1, 2019.
Attorneys in Ballard Spahr's Labor and Employment Group regularly advise clients on OSHA reporting requirements. The group is available to walk you through the requirements related to this rule change and any other labor or employment issue you may have.
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