On May 11, 2016, OSHA issued its final ruling to expand electronic recordkeeping requirements for workplace injuries and illnesses and make such records publicly available. More than three million workers suffer a workplace injury or illness each year causing OSHA to implement this new ruling and encourage employers to improve their safety practices.
The New Ruling
- Organizations with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation.
- Organizations with 20-249 employees in high risk industries (agriculture, forestry, construction, manufacturing, etc.)
Reasoning for the Regulation
By making these records public, OSHA feels as if it'll push employers to focus on safety within their organization and better inform workers, employers, and the public about workplace hazards. Prior to this ruling, information regarding these injuries and illnesses were not automatically sent to OSHA and was usually seen by only a few people at work sites, or possibly an OSHA inspector.
The availability of this data will allow employees to seek out workplaces where their risk of injury is lowest and in turn, employers competing to hire the best employees will make injury prevention a top priority. This public data will also share insight into industry leaders performance and allow employers to gauge their numbers accordingly to improve their own safety programs.
Employer Push Back
Even the most safety conscious employers are concerned with the potential issues that could arise by making this data public. Injury and illness rates oftentimes do not tell the whole story regarding the safety of a workplace - or can it measure their overall performance. Misinterpreting the data could place a black mark on an employer who is dutiful with their safety standards and cause employers to withhold injury and illness records to avoid any negative data being made public.
This ruling could potentially trigger even more OSHA inspections coupled with the new reporting standard and also potentially increase citations up to roughly 80%. The time is now to implement a proactive safety program to ensure your company is presenting a safe and healthy workplace.