OSHA Final Rule Eliminates Electronic Reporting Requirement

"By preventing routine government collection of information that may be quite sensitive, including descriptions of workers' injuries and body parts affected, OSHA is avoiding the risk that such information might be publicly disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act," the agency's Jan. 24 news release said.

Saying it took the action to protect workers' privacy, OSHA has issued a final rule that eliminates the requirement for establishments with 250 or more employees to electronically submit information from their OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report) to OSHA each year. Those establishments are still required to electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses).

"By preventing routine government collection of information that may be quite sensitive, including descriptions of workers' injuries and body parts affected, OSHA is avoiding the risk that such information might be publicly disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act," the agency's Jan. 24 news release said. "This rule will better protect personally identifiable information or data that could be re-identified with a particular worker by removing the requirement for covered employers to submit their information from Forms 300 and 301. The final rule does not alter an employer's duty to maintain OSHA Forms 300 and 301 on-site, and OSHA will continue to obtain these forms as needed through inspections and enforcement actions."

U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., chairman of the House Education & Labor Committee, issued a statement condemning OSHA's action. "As the National Academy of Sciences reported last year, accurate and transparent reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses is an important tool for protecting the health and safety of American workers. By rolling back the requirements for companies to report serious work-related injuries and illnesses that occur in their workplaces, the Trump administration is weakening our ability to identify and address issues that threaten the lives and livelihoods of workers and their families," it said. "It is notable that despite the many important issues being neglected during this partial government shutdown, the administration found time to finalize a rule that shields employers from accountability for the health and safety of their employees. President Trump pledged to defend the American worker, but this is yet another decision that violates that promise."

The new final rule will be published Jan. 25 in the Federal Register. The OSHA release said the rule "will allow OSHA to focus its resources on initiatives that its past experience has shown to be useful—including continued use of information from severe injury reports that helps target areas of concern, and seeking to fully utilize a large volume of data from Form 300A—rather than on collecting and processing information from Forms 300 and 301 with uncertain value for OSHA enforcement and compliance assistance."

OSHA also is amending the recordkeeping regulation to require covered employers to electronically submit their Employer Identification Number with their information from Form 300A. The final rule's requirement for employers to submit their EIN to OSHA electronically along with their information from OSHA Form 300A will make the data more useful for OSHA and BLS and could reduce duplicative reporting burdens on employers in the future, according to the release.

Collection of calendar year 2018 information from the OSHA Form 300A began on Jan. 2, 2019. The deadline for electronic submissions is March 2.

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