Transparent data will make workplaces safer. Here's how.
Each day, millions of Americans leave their homes and report to jobs that provide for their families, strengthen our communities and grow our economy. Prospective employees have the right to know the full scope of the safety records of an industry before entering the workforce, and all workers have the right to speak up when they believe something is unsafe.
Over the past seven years, the Obama administration has worked to advance transparency, participation and collaboration across government through the Open Government Initiative. As part of this effort, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced a final rule that increases data transparency by making information about workplace injuries and illnesses available online. Behavioral science indicates that publicly disclosing this kind of data helps reduce work-related injuries and illnesses. Why? Employers want to demonstrate to investors, job seekers, customers, and the broader public that their workplaces are safe and healthy environments.
Currently, OSHA requires many employers to record workplace injuries and illnesses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses this information to estimate injury rates in each industry, which helps OSHA better target compliance and enforcement programs as well as provide resources for employers who want to improve their safety standards.
For the most part, the information never leaves the workplace. OSHA’s final rule will modernize the current system by taking establishment-specific injury information that is already collected by employers and making it available to the public once it is cleaned of personally identifiable information. The data, however, will only be accurate if employees feel free to report injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation. To ensure complete and accurate reporting, the rule includes provisions that protect the rights of workers who report these incidents.
We know that employers want to keep workers safe on the job. But without access to all injury information, employers cannot compare their safety records with other businesses in their industry. The final rule will enable employers to benchmark their safety and health performance against industry leaders, encouraging them to improve their safety programs. Additionally, the rule allows industry researchers to better understand the causes of recurring injuries and identify emerging health hazards that would be difficult to detect by looking at the data of a single employer.
The final rule will encourage employers, workers, researchers, the public and OSHA to work together to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses, use taxpayer dollars more efficiently and improve businesses’ bottom line. By increasing data transparency, it will help build stronger and safer workplaces for generations of Americans.
Learn more about OSHA’s efforts to improve workplace safety through data here.