It’s not common that we highlight political matters on this blog, but the looming effective date of the new OSHA electronic reporting requirements have stakeholders jockeying for position before Congress. As we noted in a prior post, new rules taking effect on January 1, 2017, will require employers to report severe injuries and hospitalizations electronically.
The measure was implemented, in part, because federal regulators did not believe that companies were being diligent in reporting workplace accidents, and OSHA did not have the resources to continually investigate accident claims. However, the measure is being met with a great deal of resistance from lobbyists representing business owners.
Essentially, they are concerned that with the public electronic database OSHA plans to store employers’ injury and illness reports, it will inevitably, and inadvertently, release employees’ personal information. OSHA claims that it will take all appropriate steps to prevent this from happening, but employers are skeptical.
Nevertheless, OSHA maintains that it needs this system to implement the reporting rule it established in 2015. And given the continual decline in resources, the electronic reporting requirements will help make up for the lack of agents available to conduct site visits.
Despite these tensions, it remains to be seen whether the effective date for electronic reporting will be changed. In the meantime, injured workers may still be ambivalent about reporting accidents or injuries out of fear of retaliation resulting in job loss. Because of this, people who suffer injuries at work should consult an experienced workers compensation lawyer to understand their rights and options after an accident.