Companies with 250 or more employees will not be required to electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and OSHA Form 301, under the final rule issued yesterday by OSHA.

That Obama-era provision was eliminated after an unusually speedy review of the rule by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

In a statement, OSHA cited worker privacy as the reason for the change.

“By preventing routine government collection of information that may be quite sensitive, including descriptions of workers’ injuries and body parts affected, OSHA is avoiding the risk that such information might be publicly disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). 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.”

Former OSHA chief David Michaels had planned to post the information on the agency’s website, thereby “nudging” employers to focus on safety and enabling people to determine if potential employers had safe workplaces.

Jordan Barab, who served under Michaels as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor at OSHA, said in a blog post that the deletion of the requirement “is the business community’s continuing effort to ensure that the public has as little information as possible about workplace injuries and illnesses — and why they happen — in American workplaces.”

The final rule does not alter an employer’s duty to maintain OSHA Forms 300 and 301 on-site, and OSHA will continue to obtain these forms as needed through inspections and enforcement actions.  

The agency said the rule will allow it to improve enforcement targeting and compliance assistance and “to focus its resources on initiatives that its past experience has shown to be useful—including continued use of information from severe injury reports that helps target areas of concern, and seeking to fully utilize a large volume of data from Form 300A.”

The final rule will, the agency says, enable it “to improve enforcement targeting and compliance assistance, protect worker privacy and safety, and decrease burden on employers.”

Another change: the agency is amending the recordkeeping regulation to require covered employers to electronically submit their Employer Identification Number with their information from Form 300A. The final rule’s requirement for employers to submit their EIN to OSHA electronically along with their information from OSHA Form 300A will make the data more useful for OSHA and BLS, and could reduce duplicative reporting burdens on employers in the future.

OSHA has determined that this final rule will allow OSHA Collection of Calendar Year 2018 information from the OSHA Form 300A began on January 2, 2019. The deadline for electronic submissions is March 2, 2019. 

The full 104 page text of the new rule and the preamble can be found here.

Jordan Barab’s Confined Spaces blog post about the final rule can be found here.