Letter: OSHA Should Issue Electronic Reporting Rule With All Possible Speed

Restoring Obama-Era Rule Will Strengthen Enforcement, Increase Compliance with Workplace Health and Safety Measures

The Biden administration should move with urgency to restore the provisions of the Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses rule that required large employers to regularly submit workplace injury and illness data to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Public Citizen said today in a letter to the agency.

The Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses rule was issued under the Obama administration. Then-President Donald Trump’s rollback rule in 2019 removed the electronic reporting requirement for large businesses. The Biden administration announced in June its intent to reinstate the provisions of the rule. While this signal from Biden’s OSHA was most welcome, the time schedule plan is far too slow.

“There is no reason for delay,” said Juley Fulcher, worker health and safety advocate for Public Citizen. “The electronic reporting requirement has such important implications for worker health and safety. Electronically collected information is an essential tool that will allow OSHA to identify and solve problems when workplace safety protections are failing. Data collected under this rule will also allow outside researchers to better identify patterns of injuries and illnesses, providing insights that may prevent workplace injuries and illnesses from occurring in the future and save lives. To protect U.S. workers, OSHA should move quickly to restore this rule by Sept. 15 and to issue the final rule by March 15, 2022. America’s workers need the enhanced enforcement, increased compliance, and improved workplace safety that electronic reporting will produce.”

According to the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII), in 2019 American workers experienced 2.8 million injuries and illnesses on the job. Unfortunately, OSHA has very limited information on most of these worker injuries and illnesses and to fulfill its mission and protect workers OSHA needs to systematically collect data on what is happening to workers. Mandated, timely, electronic reporting will allow OSHA to target its enforcement resources more effectively to establishments where workers are at greatest risk and to better evaluate its interventions. Additionally, publication of worker injury and illness data can push employers to abate hazards and thereby prevent workplace injuries and illnesses without OSHA having to conduct onsite inspections.

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