The Trump administration has proposed rolling back an Obama-era Labor Department rule requiring companies with 250 or more workers to submit detailed forms to the agency on workplace injuries, a move labor advocates say will allow companies to cover up the extent of injuries.
The department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a notice on Friday stating that it is seeking to roll back the rule passed under the Obama administration that greatly increased the amount of detail supervisors are supposed to provide to the federal government on workplace injuries.
Some of that information was then posted publicly by the Labor Department under the rule, and included summaries of incidents that occurred in larger-scale companies.
A spokesperson for the Labor Department told NBC News that the rule change would not alter the agency's ability to collect information from companies on workplace injuries and safety violations.
"This proposal maintains safety and health protections for workers while protecting sensitive worker information from public disclosure," communications director Megan Sweeney told NBC. "The data OSHA continues to collect is robust and enables the agency to most effectively protect workers on the job."
The Labor Department argued that the original rule violated workers' privacy by exposing incidents that they were involved in to Freedom of Information Act requests.
Public safety advocates argued that the rule's rollback would only hurt workers.
"The existing rule is in place to protect workers," said Sean Sherman, an attorney at the Public Citizen Litigation Group which is involved in a lawsuit over the rule. "The idea that you can protect workers by rolling back a strong worker protection is absurd."