Enforcement of OSHA Reporting Rule DelayedMay 25th, 2017 by Trey Barrineau
Enforcement has been indefinitely delayed for a controversial Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule that would force companies to make all of their injury and illness data public.
The new rule, which requires employers in high-hazard industries, including manufacturing and construction, to send injury and illness data straight to OSHA every year for public posting on the agency’s website, was supposed to go into effect on July 1.
However, OSHA posted an update last week on its record-keeping website that says it’s not accepting that data right now.
“OSHA is not accepting electronic submissions of injury and illness logs at this time, and intends to propose extending the July 1, 2017 date by which certain employers are required to submit the information from their completed 2016 Form 300A electronically,” the statement reads. “Updates will be posted to this webpage when they are available.”
OSHA spokeswoman Mandy Kraft told The Washington Post that the agency delayed the rule to address employers’ “concerns about meeting their reporting obligations” on time.
But the announcement of delayed enforcement comes as the new regulation 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 rule, which is called “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses.”
The lawsuit claims that the regulation is “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.
The electronic submittal process was originally scheduled to be phased in over three years. It will affect all establishments with more than 250 employees and establishments in high-risk industries 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.
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