WASHINGTON—The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has no authority to force employers to answer job safety surveys unless it makes a specific rule requiring a response, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, said Jan. 31. ``We applaud the court for sending OSHA an important message: they have to follow the rules just like everyone else,'' said Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations.
The ATA, United Parcel Service and Federal Express Corp. sued OSHA, claiming its threats of penalties against firms that didn't respond to its survey violated the Administrative Procedure Act.
At issue was an OSHA survey form, titled ``Occupational Injury and Illness Report, 1995,'' which the agency sent to 80,000 employers across the U.S. The survey language said it was ``mandatory'' for all employers to respond within 30 days, on pain of penalties under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.