Workplace Injury Information to be Reported Online, Under OSHA Plan

Federal labor officials are finalizing a rule that will require employers to electronically report workplace injury and illness information into a database, which will be made public. 

Amid an increase of preventable work related injuries, the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a new rule this week, which requires employers to electronically submit information about injuries and illnesses stemming from their workplaces directly to OSHA.

The final rule (PDF) states the specific employer and injury information will be uploaded to a searchable database on an annual basis on OSHA’s website and be available to the public.

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The new rule is intended to modernize OASHA’s record keeping about workplace injuries and to address hazards that often cause preventable injuries if employers had taken proper precautionary measures in a timely manner. The new rule will also provide protection for employees who submit injury and illness information to OSHA, preventing companies from retaliating and punishing reporting workers.

Currently, OSHA has very limited access to specific employer workplace injury and illness data unless an inspection is preformed or the data is submitted through OSHA’s Data Initiative, which often consists of only summary data that is two or three years old, allowing current workplace hazards to go unmonitored. OSHA receives information through national surveys such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, which generates statistics on occupational injuries and illnesses at the state and national level, however the information does not include employer-specific information.

The new requirements go into effect on August 10, and will require establishments with 250 or more employees to electronically submit injury and illness information stemming from their workplace to OSHA on an annual basis. The rule also requires employers with 20 to 249 employees in hazardous industries to submit workplace injuries and illnesses on an annual basis. Some of the high risk industries affected by the rule include manufacturing, construction, farming, and trucking among many others.

Workplace Injury Database To Be Public

OSHA’s rule indicates the information collected will be uploaded to a searchable database on the agency’s website at and will contain establishment-specific reports that will be available to the public.

“Since high injury rates are a sign of poor management, no employer wants to be seen publicly as operating a dangerous workplace,” Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary for Labor at OSHA, said in a press release. “Our new reporting requirements will ‘nudge’ employers to prevent worker injuries and illnesses to demonstrate to investors, job seekers, customers and the public that they operate safe and well-managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target our compliance assistance and enforcement resources at establishments where workers are at greatest risk, and enable ‘big data’ researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics more than 3 million workers each year suffer injuries and illnesses on the job. OSHA released a workplace injury report in March indicating at least 10,388 severe workplace injuries were identified in 2015, including 7,636 hospitalizations and 2,644 amputations, with most of the injuries stemming from construction and manufacturing jobs.

OSHA reported that most of the severe injuries were well-understood hazards that would have been easily preventable in straight-forward, cost effective ways by providing fall protections, installing guards around machinery, or clearly marking and labeling hazardous materials. However, without complete and timely access to the incident reports the agency is not able to identify preventable workplace hazards.

Some have contested the new rule, specifically the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) who have accused the Labor Department of “publicly shaming” companies. NAM vice president Rosario Palmieri claims the administration is putting a target on nearly every company within the U.S. and opening them up to public criticism.

However, OSHA has made other recent attempts to stay current with injury reports. In January 2015, OSHA implemented a new reporting program, known as “Rapid Response Investigation” (RRI), which requires employers in states that are overseen by the federal safety regulator to report any work-related injury resulting in amputation, in-patient hospitalization, or loss of eye within 24 hours of the incident’s occurrence. The previously mandated rule for employers to report work-place related fatalities within eight hours was unchanged.The reporting program allows for a faster response time for OSHA officials to understand the reasoning for the incidents and how to better prevent similar injuries from occurring.


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