The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration  (OSHA) has proposed delaying enforcement of a controversial  electronic reporting rule that would require companies to make all of their injury and illness data available to the public.

OSHA has asked the Department of Labor to push back the compliance date of the rule, “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses,” from July 1, 2017, to Dec. 1, 2017. The proposed delay will allow OSHA an opportunity to further review and consider the rule, the agency says.

The electronic submittal process, which was announced in May 2016,  was originally scheduled to be phased in over three years starting on July 1, 2017. It will affect all establishments with more than 250 employees and those in high-risk industries such as construction and manufacturing with 20-249 employees. An establishment is defined as either an entire business or a unit of a business. Each establishment can submit data, or a corporation can submit all data from its units.

The announcement of delayed enforcement comes as the rule is facing two legal challenges.

In January, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other groups sued OSHA over the new regulation. The lawsuit claims that it’s “arbitrary, capricious, and otherwise contrary to law.” The plaintiffs also say it violates the first and fifth amendments of the Constitution.

“The rule violates the First Amendment by compelling companies to submit their confidential and proprietary information for publication on a publicly available online database,” the complaint reads. “There is no evidence that publication of this information will have any effect on workplace safety and health. The limited authority given OSHA by Congress to require employers to collect and maintain injury and illness data cannot be read to allow the agency to force employers to make public this information in violation of their constitutional rights. Further, the rule violates the Fifth Amendment by failing to provide employers adequate notice of what constitutes ‘reasonable’ reporting procedures, subjecting employers to citation and potentially significant penalties without providing due process of law.”

In July 2016, a coalition of business groups, including Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas challenging the anti-retaliation provisions of the reporting regulation. The groups say it “will limit post-accident drug testing and safety programs that contribute to jobsite construction safety,” such as contests that give prizes to workers for injury-free days.

The rule bans post-accident drug testing because the agency thinks it might make employees think twice about going on the record with injury claims.

OSHA invites the public to comment on the proposed deadline extension. Comments may be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov, the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal, or by mail or facsimile. See the Federal Register notice for details. The deadline for submitting comments is July 13, 2017.

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