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OSHA Reporting Site Planned Despite Rule Status

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

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Last Friday (July 14), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced plans to launch an online injury-reporting application Aug. 1, despite still working on changes to the already-delayed electronic reporting rule.

OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application will be available via the OSHA website when it launches, and will walk employers through a four-step process for reporting workplace illnesses and injuries per the Final Rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, issued in 2016. The injury-reporting provisions of the rule are currently delayed pending potential revisions to the rule, and lawsuits against it.

Keyboard
© iStock.com / patrickbanks

OSHA says the online application for reporting workplace injuries will be online Aug. 1; the deadline for filing 2016 data is now Dec. 1.

Last Tuesday (July 11), a federal judge in Oklahoma paused one lawsuit that a number of industry groups had filed in an attempt to stop the rule. Judge David L. Russell granted a request from OSHA to stay the case while the agency re-examines the rule and considers changes. On June 30, Judge Sam Lindsay, in Texas, ruled that a similar suit by industry groups against the rule be administratively closed, a move that also puts a stop to that suit, but does not permanently close it.

Reporting Site Coming Soon

The Improve Tracking rule was issued by OSHA in May 2016, and certain provisions went into effect in December. The electronic reporting aspect of the rule became effective Jan. 1, and originally, employers were required to submit their 2016 Form 300A electronically by July 1.

In May, the agency had yet to publish a website for the submission of that data, and on May 17, OSHA proposed a delay to the deadline, “to allow affected entities sufficient time to familiarize themselves with the electronic reporting system, and to provide the new administration an opportunity to review the new electronic reporting requirements prior to their implementation.”

Employers required to submit injury reports electronically under the new rule include those with more than 250 employees that are required to keep records of workplace injuries, and those with between 20 and 249 employees that are in certain “high-risk” industries, including construction and manufacturing.

The new deadline for filing 2016 injury reports electronically is Dec. 1.

Two Suits Stopped

In June, OSHA filed motions to stay both federal cases against the rule, citing the fact that the agency decided to propose additional rulemaking in relation to the Improve Tracking rule, per Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta. According to the motions, OSHA is considering changes that "could directly affect the scope of the rule, and therefore the claims at issue" in each suit.

The federal lawsuit in Oklahoma, filed in January by a number of groups including the National Association of Home Builders, argues that OSHA overstepped its authority in asking employers to turn over injury information to be published online, and that the rule creates an unnecessary paperwork burden.

Department of Labor
Ed Brown, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

OSHA filed motions to stay both federal cases against the rule, citing the fact that the agency decided to propose additional rulemaking in relation to the Improve Tracking rule, per Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta.

OSHA has said that information on workplace injuries that is collected electronically will be made public, though no personally identifiable information about workers will be disclosed. According to the agency, the information being collected is the same injury information that must already reported through paper filings.

The Texas suit, filed in 2016 by Texo (a state group that combines the Associated Builders and Contractors and Associated General Contractors) and a number of other organizations and businesses, deals with a number of provisions, including those that have already gone into effect restricting certain practices that could constitute retaliation for employees who report injuries.

One controversial provision bans the use of drug-testing for employees after a workplace accident unless drugs or alcohol are "likely to have contributed to the incident." Also included are provisions that ban incentives for certain periods of time without a workplace injury, which OSHA argues can lead to underreporting injuries.

The stay of the Oklahoma case and the administrative closure of the Texas case can both be revisited in the future by either party, or by the court itself.

   

Tagged categories: Department of Labor; Health and safety; Lawsuits; OSHA; Regulations

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