Workplace injury information must be made public under new regulations
Information about workplace accidents that result in injuries or illness must be made available to the public under new, nationwide regulations created to provide more transparency and ultimately reduce the number of workplace injuries across the country.
The new, online database created by the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will be available to the public. OSHA created the database "to help workers, companies, the public and the government know more about workplace injuries and to pressure businesses to do more to reduce job-related injuries," according to The Guardian.
- What information will be available to the public about workplace accidents?
- What are "high hazard" workplaces?
- When can the public access the new workplace accident database?
- Why did OSHA create this workplace injury database?
- What has been the reaction to OSHA's workplace injury database?
OSHA's new, online disclosure rules will require 34,000 "high hazard" workplaces with 250 employees or more to disclose detailed accident information, The Guardian reported. Such companies will be required to provide information about specific injuries without personally identifying individuals. An additional 432,000 workplaces with 20 to 249 employees will be required to report the total number of injuries and illnesses due to workplace accidents.
The federal government defines 20 different industries as "high hazard" based on the number of days workers cannot work, can only work on a restricted basis or need to be reassigned. These 20 industries have double the average number of injuries and days away from work. The industries include:
- Waste treatment and disposal
- Glass manufacturing
- Soft drink and ice manufacturing
- Leather manufacturing
- Furniture production
The new requirements will go into effect on Aug. 10 and will be phased in over two years, according to a statement released by OSHA. The first set of data must be sent to OSHA by July 2017.
"OSHA expects that public disclosure of work injury data will encourage employers to increase their efforts to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses," according to the statement released by the agency.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels added that he believes the new data system will make workplaces safer. "Since high injury rates are a sign of poor management, no employer wants to be seen publicly as operating a dangerous workplace," Michaels said. "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."
Randy Johnson, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's senior vice president of labor, criticized the new database. "Instead of improving workplace safety, this will only create a new filing requirement that will lead to sensitive employer data being published without context or explanation," Johnson told The Wall Street Journal.
Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, praised OSHA's new database. "The new OSHA injury reporting rules will bring workplace injury and illness reporting into the 21st century and provide important new protections to workers who report injuries," he said in a statement published by The Guardian. "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."
Ohio workplace injury attorney James B. Hochman of Hochman & Plunkett Co., LPA, agreed. "People have a right to know if the company they work for has a history of serious workplace injuries," the Dayton, Ohio attorney said. "In our experience, the more information people have about dangerous workplaces, the smarter the decisions they can make, especially if they sustained an injury at work and are eligible for workers' compensation benefits."
If you or a loved one has been injured in a workplace accident in Ohio, contact our law firm. We can discuss the details of your case and help you decide the best course of action. Call 877-623-6863 to schedule your free case evaluation. Our law firm has offices in Dayton, Troy, Springfield and Cincinnati, Ohio.