So the green light has been given for you to begin training and preparing for the final rule. And don't overlook your plans for addressing the interests of other parties, including the public, which may access your employee injury and illness records.
What do you do?
For the most part, you better comply with the request. Section 1904.35 (employee involvement) of the final recordkeeping rule provides access to the entire OSHA 300 Log to any employee, former employee, or employee representative who requests a copy. You must provide one free copy of the current OSHA 300 Log, and any stored OSHA 300 (or 200) Logs, by the end of the next business day following the request. The Log must include employee names except for a limited number of "privacy cases."
Any employee, former employee or personal representative is also entitled to one free copy of the "information about the case" portion of the OSHA 301 Incident Report describing an injury or illness to that employee.
According to OSHA, you may not require an employee, former employee or employee representative to agree to limit the use of the records as a condition for viewing or obtaining copies.
OSHA concluded that "while the possibility exists that employees and their representatives with access to the records could disclose the information to the general public, OSHA does not believe that this risk is sufficient to justify restrictions on the use of the records ? OSHA reached this conclusion because it has "not noted any significant problems of this type in the past."
OSHA doesn't see a significant risk, but you should. About once each week I find a new Web site that uses business environmental health and safety data in various ways. And the only limitation on how the data may be used or misused is a person's imagination.
Your legal counsel may feel it is appropriate for people accessing the records to sign a release form. The release form may include information such as the requester's identification numbers (social security, driver's license, etc.); address; phone number; and, intended use of the records. The release form could even include language that encourages the parties to treat the records as confidential. The language would be in addition to the confidentiality notice on the 300 Log and Incident Report forms.
We live in the Information Age. Just about anything that is recorded may become available to the public. Data on the OSHA 300 Log and 301 Incident Report are just another example of this possibility. How the information will be used or misused when it becomes available to the public remains to be seen. Given this unknown, you should exercise utmost care when generating and managing your information.