Last week, OSHA issued a final rule regarding the reporting of workplace hazards. Many employers are already required to keep records of injuries and illnesses. At this time though, little of this information about individual employers is made public. Under the new rule, employers in high-hazard industries that are already collecting data will send it to OSHA for posting on OSHA’s website. OSHA states that the availability of this data will enable employees to choose workplaces where injury risk is lowest, and employers that wish to hire the best workers will make prevention a priority.
Under the rule, employers with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses regulation must electronically submit information. Employers with 20-249 employees in certain industries must electronically submit more-limited information as well.
New requirements take effect August 10, 2016, with submissions to OSHA beginning in 2017. The obligations to complete and retain injury and illness records under the recordkeeping regulation remain unchanged.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over three million workers suffer a workplace injury or illness annually. Assistant Secretary Michaels states, “Since high injury rates are a sign of poor management, no employer wants to be seen publicly as operating a dangerous workplace. Our new reporting requirements will ‘nudge’ employers to prevent worker injuries and illnesses to demonstrate to investors, job seekers, customers and the public that they operate safe and well-managed facilities.”
Gender identity issues continue to be a hot topic in the media, and by extension in the workplace. This month OSHA has published a Best Practices memo providing suggested guidelines for restroom access for transgender workers. The memo is available on the OSHA website or by clicking OSHA Best Practices, Restroom Access.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the DOL announced a few days ago that whistleblowers will now be able to file complaints related to violations of the 22 laws that come under OSHA’s purview through an on-line form. The report can be made at www.osha.gov/whistleblower/WBComplaint.html.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels stated, “Whistleblower laws protect not only workers, but also the public at large and now workers will have an additional avenue available to file a complaint with OSHA.”
Workers can still make complaints in writing or by calling OSHA or one of its regional or area offices.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor operates education centers (OSHA Training Institute Education Centers) throughout the country. The program has been in place for 20 years and provides outreach, training, and monitoring, working with 40,000 participants last fiscal year. The program covers construction, general industry, disaster site, and maritime issues, focusing on training courses for safety and health hazards.
The DOL has renewed 24 existing sites and added 4 new sites after a national competition. The new sites include Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee. The press release is available by clicking here.
OSHA is continuing to work with the National Safety Council, a nonprofit public service organization, to promote workplace safety, giving emphasis to fall prevention at construction sites.
According to Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels, “Falls cause more fatalities than any other hazard in the construction industry.” So OSHA has entered into a new two-year agreement to identify best practices including developing fact sheets on the benefits of injury and illness prevention programs that identify workplace hazards.