January 24, 2019

OSHA Rescinds Requirements of Electronic Recordkeeping Regulation

OSHA filed a final rule this morning that rescinds the requirement for employers with 250 or more employees to electronically submit information from OSHA Forms 300 and 301 to the agency each year. Form 300 is the log of work-related injuries and illnesses and Form 301 is the injury and illness incident report. According to OSHA’s press release, these employers will still be required to submit information from their OSHA Forms 300A, which summarize work-related illnesses and injuries. The agency states that these amendments to its recordkeeping requirements will help OSHA avoid the risk that sensitive information—such as descriptions of workers’ injuries and body parts affected—might be publicly disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act.

“This rule will better protect personally identifiable information or data that could be re-identified with a particular worker by removing the requirement for covered employers to submit their information from Forms 300 and 301,” OSHA’s press release reads.

The new final rule also amends the recordkeeping regulation to require covered employers to submit their Employer Identification Numbers electronically along with their injury and illness data submissions—a change OSHA says is intended to “reduce duplicative reporting burdens on employers in the future.”

OSHA stresses that the new final rule does not revoke an employer’s duty to maintain Forms 300 and 301 for OSHA inspection.

During the proposal stage of this rule, AIHA submitted comments (PDF) to OSHA that included two recommendations: first, that OSHA should not rescind this requirement, and second, that the agency should temporarily suspend further action on this rulemaking until a study is conducted on the benefits of information collected from Forms 300 and 301. AIHA encouraged OSHA to identify other means of protecting workers’ personally identifiable information.

When the original final rule to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses was first announced in 2016, then-Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels, PhD, MPH, stated that access to these data would allow the agency to use its resources more efficiently. According to Michaels, the rule would help OSHA identify those workplaces where workers are at greatest risk. For example, the data might prompt the agency to refer high-rate small- and medium-sized employers to OSHA’s free on-site consultation program, or to send hazard-specific outreach information to employers.

The final rule filed today will go into effect 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register. The rule is scheduled for publication tomorrow, Jan. 25, 2019. The government shutdown, which is in its 34th day, may affect the rule’s scheduled publication; during the lapse in funding, FederalRegister.gov is not being supported.

More information about OSHA’s final rule to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses is available on the agency’s website.