New OSHA Rule Will Create "Largest Publicly Available Dataset on Work Injuries and Illnesses"

Published May 11, 2016

​Today, OSHA issued a new final rule that will require employers in high-hazard industries to transmit to OSHA information about workplace injuries and illnesses, which employers already record on OSHA Forms 300, 300A, and 301. The new requirements take effect on Aug. 10, 2016, with a phase-in period for data submissions beginning in 2017. OSHA will then remove all personally identifiable information from the data and post it to the agency’s website.

According to OSHA, the rule is intended to better inform workers, employers, the public, and the agency about workplace hazards. OSHA stresses that these new requirements do not add to or change employers’ obligation to complete and retain injury and illness records under OSHA’s Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illness regulation.

During a call with reporters to introduce the new rule, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels, PhD, MPH, stated that access to these data will allow the agency to use its resources more efficiently. According to Michaels, the new rule will 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.

Michaels also explained how the agency is harnessing the skills of big-data researchers to prevent work injuries and illnesses.

“Using data collected under the new rule, OSHA will create the largest publicly available dataset on work injuries and illnesses,” Michaels said. “This will enable researchers to better study injury causation to identify new workplace safety hazards before they become widespread and to evaluate the effectiveness of injury and illness prevention activities.”

Once the data is made public, prospective employees could use it to identify workplaces where their risk of injury is lowest, Michaels said. Employers could also use the information to benchmark their health and safety performance against others in their industry.

The new rule is scheduled for publication tomorrow, May 12, but a pre-publication PDF is available via the Federal Register. For more information, see OSHA’s press release.