Biz groups ‘alarmed’ by new OSHA rules for workplace accidents

Business groups are up in arms over a new rule from the Obama administration that would require companies to report more workplace injuries. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration published a rule on Thursday that requires companies to report within 24 hours all work-related injuries that lead to an employee being hospitalized.

Companies will also be required to report "amputations or the loss of an eye" for the first time.

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Marc Freedman, executive director of labor law policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the new reporting requirements will open the door for OSHA to police more workplaces.

"It will make more hospitalizations subject to being reported to OSHA, which will set up OSHA to go after more workplaces for inspections and generate more citations," Freedman said.

Previously, companies were required to report accidents to OSHA only when three or more workers were hospitalized after an incident at the workplace. But starting in January 2015, when the new rules take effect, companies will be required to report each individual hospitalization.

Companies will still be required to report any workplace deaths.

Business groups are also upset about OSHA's plans to publish their safety reports online.

Joe Trauger, vice president of human resources at the National Association of Manufacturers, said this information could be taken out of context and used to "mischaracterize" a company.

He called the rule "very, very troubling" and "alarming." 

"When OSHA publicizes this information online, it doesn't provide the full picture of what occurred in the workplace," Trauger said. "It could have occurred in the workplace but doesn't have anything to do with the workplace."

Labor Secretary Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE announced the rules last week, noting that 4,405 workers were killed on the job last year.

"We can and must do more to keep America's workers safe and healthy," he said. "Workplace injuries and fatalities are absolutely preventable, and these new requirements will help OSHA focus its resources and hold employers accountable for preventing them."