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OSHA extends comment period on proposed rule to improve tracking of workplace injury and illnesses

Government rulemakingOSHA announced yesterday  that it will extend the comment period on the proposed rule to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses to Oct. 14, 2014. The proposal, published on Nov. 8, 2013, would amend the agency's recordkeeping regulation to add requirements for the electronic submission of injury and illness information that employers are already required to keep.

A motive to under-report injuries?

During the public meeting held on the proposal, many participants expressed concern that the proposal may create motivation for employers to under-record injuries and illnesses, since each covered establishment's injury and illness data would become publicly available on OSHA's website. Participants also expressed concern that the proposal would lead to an increase in the number of employers who adopt practices that discourage employees from reporting recordable injuries and illnesses. OSHA is concerned that the accuracy of the data collected under the new proposal could be compromised if employers adopt these practices.

"OSHA wants to make sure that employers, employees and the public have access to the most accurate data about injuries and illnesses in their workplaces so that they can take the most appropriate steps to protect worker safety and health," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.

Amendments proposed

Therefore, OSHA is soliciting comments on whether to amend the proposed rule to: 1) require that employers inform their employees of their right to report injuries and illnesses; 2) more clearly communicate the requirement that any injury and illness reporting requirements established by the employer be reasonable and not unduly burdensome; and 3) provide OSHA an additional remedy to prohibit employers from taking adverse action against employees for reporting injuries and illnesses.

Individuals interested in submitting comments may do so electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, the federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Comments may also be submitted via mail or facsimile. See the Federal Register notice for details.

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