OSHA to publicly disclose workplace injuries online
The Department of Labor is moving forward with a controversial plan to report information about workplace injuries and illnesses on a public website.
The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said Wednesday that employers in hazardous industries such as manufacturing and construction will be required to electronically report the information.
“More attention to safety will save the lives and limbs of many workers,” OSHA chief David Michaels told reporters.
The OSHA rule is intended to pressure companies into providing safe workplaces.
“No employer wants to be seen publicly as operating a dangerous workplace,” Michaels explained.
“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,” the agency added.
Labor advocates and public interest groups said the injury reporting requirements will usher in a new era of workplace transparency.
But the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) accused the Labor Department of “publicly shaming” companies into compliance.
“This administration put a target on nearly every company and manufacturer in the United States,” NAM vice president Rosario Palmieri said in a statement.
“Manufacturers are supportive of regulations aimed at increasing transparency, and we pride ourselves on creating safe workplaces for the men and women who make things in America,” Palmieri said. “However, this regulation will lead to the unfair and unnecessary public shaming of these businesses. This is a misguided attempt at transparency that sacrifices employee and employer privacy.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than than 3 million workers each year are injured or suffer an illness on the job.
Currently, employers in hazardous industries are required to collect information about injuries and illness, but they generally do not post it online.
“Until now, most workplace injury records have only been available at the workplace, making it impossible to know which employers have bad or good injury records,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement.
Starting in July 2017, employers will be required to electronically submit information to OSHA about injuries and illnesses stemming from their workplaces. OSHA will then post the information online.
OSHA will also protect employees who report injuries and illnesses from workplace retaliation.
The reporting requirements will apply to employers in hazardous industries, including manufacturing, construction, farming, and trucking, among others.
The workplace injury information will not only be available to current employees, but could also be used as a tool for recruiting other talented workers, the agency said.
The rule was posted Wednesday in the Federal Register.
– This story was correct at 2 p.m. to reflect that the submission requirements will begin in July 2017. A previous version contained incorrect information.