WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a rule requiring injury data collection to be made public - the better to inform workers, employers, and the public, about workplace hazards.
OSHA says the new rule, effective August 10, will give it a better view of injuries, and that it is "applying the insights of behavioral economics to improve workplace safety and prevent injuries and illnesses." Public disclosure could bring public pressure to bear on companies to develop safer workplaces. OSHA says it will remove all personally identifiable information associated with the data before it is publicly accessible.


OSHA Federal Register rule on reporting injuries

OSHA requires many employers to keep a record of injuries and illnesses to help identify hazards, fix problems and prevent additional injuries and illnesses. More than three million workers suffer a workplace injury or illness every year, and there is no publicly available a ccess to this information. Employers in high-hazard industries will send OSHA injury and illness data that the employers are already required to collect, for posting on the agency's website.

Woodworking Network published news announcements from OSHA of penalties and actions it takes in enforcement of work safety rules in the wood manufacturing industry. 

Just as public disclosure of their kitchens' sanitary conditions encourages restaurant owners to improve food safety, OSHA expects that public disclosure of work injury data will encourage employers to increase their efforts to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses.
"Since high injury rates are a sign of poor management, no employer wants to be seen publicly as operating a dangerous workplace," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "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."
Using data collected under the new rule, OSHA will create the largest publicly available data set on work injuries and illnesses, enabling researchers to better study injury causation, identify new workplace safety hazards before they become widespread and evaluate the effectiveness of injury and illness prevention activities. 
Under the new rule, all establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation must electronically submit to OSHA injury and illness information from OSHA Forms 300, 300A, and 301. Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain industries* must electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A only.
The new requirements take effect Aug. 10, 2016, with phased in data submissions beginning in 2017. These requirements do not add to or change an employer's obligation to complete and retain injury and illness records under the Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses regulation.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.