Published on March 17, 2014

Firm slams proposed OSHA workplace injury rule

By Sheena Harrison, Crain News Service

WASHINGTON (March 17, 2014) — A proposal that would require employers to file injury and illness reports electronically with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) could lead to higher costs and decreased accident reporting, Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. (RIMS) said in comments recently submitted to OSHA.

In a letter filed March 10 with OSHA, RIMS President Carolyn Snow said the agency’s proposal, which also would make accident data public, could cause employers stop tracking and reporting minor injuries in order to make their incident rate appear lower.

She added that the proposal would be “duplicative, time-consuming and costly” for employers, and that the “electronic submission of injury data for a given year will not provide the whole story regarding any particular injury or illness.”

“Making this information available electronically could lead to an organization being targeted for enforcement by the administration itself, through increased litigation against an organization, or by other organizations looking to disparage a competitor’s employment and safety practices,” the statement reads. “While we do not believe this is the intent of the proposed rule, the potential certainly exists.”

OSHA proposed the electronic reporting rule in November in an effort to improve workplace safety and health by giving OSHA “direct, timely and systematic access” to injury and illness data, the agency said in a statement. OSHA said the data also would allow employers to compare their injury and illness rates to those of other employers.

The proposal would affect employers with more than 250 workers.

Other business groups have submitted similar comments to OSHA. The American Society of Safety Engineers asked OSHA to withdraw its proposed rule, saying it has the “very real potential of creating a powerful incentive to hide (safety) problems” from OSHA, according to comments posted online.

The National Federation of Independent Business said in a statement that OSHA’s proposed rule would “raise serious privacy concerns for employees, offer no additional safety benefits and provide context-less data to organizations such as unions and competitors.”

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This report appeared on businessinsurance.com, the website of Business Insurance magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business.

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