I recently read that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has just enacted a new rule, one that will require employers in “high-hazard” industries to report directly to OSHA when on-the-job injuries or illnesses occur. OSHA will then post this information on their agency website. The rule will take effect at the beginning of next year, Jan. 1, 2017. OSHA hopes that “public disclosure will encourage employers to improve workplace safety and provide valuable information to workers, job seekers, customer, researchers and the general public.” Employer reporting requirements vary slightly depending on the number of employees, but the rule will apply to all employers, except for those with less than twenty employees.
According to David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, “Most people don’t realize that many employers don’t send this information to OSHA.” OSHA “expects that public disclosure of work injury data will encourage employers to increase their efforts to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses,” said Michaels, as “[h]igh injury rates are a sign of poor management.”
Others are more skeptical of this new rule. For example, the US Chamber of Commerce released a statement in which they called the rule “misguided,” and felt that these “excessive reporting requirements” could lead to employers being “falsely branded as unsafe.”
Prevention of Retaliation
Additionally, the new rule prohibits employers from discouraging workers from reporting an injury or illness. Currently, workers have the right to report job-related injuries and illnesses, as per federal regulations; however, many are often discouraged from reporting—especially at workplaces without unions or other such representation. This new rule provides that retaliating against a worker for reporting a workplace injury or illness would be a violation of OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements. Previously, retaliation claims could only be handled as a retaliation case. Instead, now, they can be approached as a violation by the employer, and thus, will not have to focus on acts done to the employee, but rather inaction on the part of the employer.
It’s pretty easy to think of some high risk jobs, such as working on oil rig. However, here are some high-risk industries according to OSHA affected by this new rule:
- Furniture stores
- Grocery stores
- Department stores
- Freight trucking
- Postal service
- Waste collection
- Nursing care facilities
- Performing arts companies
- Dry-cleaning and laundry services
The point of OSHA’s new rule is to help workers choose a safer place to work by providing them with the knowledge and resources on a workplace’s injury statistics. This kind of transparency is great, and I hope to see it provide a safer workplace for all.
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- How Safety Violations at Work can Affect Your Workers’ Comp Case
- Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs