OSHA – Regulation by Shame?

The US Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a proposed new rule that would require hundreds of thousands (possibly > 1Million) businesses to submit their annual injury and illness report electronically.

Every year all businesses have to record and summarize their illnesses and injuries on a report known as the OSHA 300 form. OSHA samples about 80,000 businesses and the Bureau of Labor Statistics samples approximately 250,000 additional sites. While not totally random, a small sample from every type of company are typically drawn. OSHA uses this data to target specific industries for action and stepped up enforcement. This is why we have asked for a number of years that gins that get such a survey request let us know so we have an idea what is going to OSHA.

The proposal is that instead of a sample, nearly all companies would have to report the data electronically every year. OSHA says it will use this data to better utilize its resources for targeted inspections. They say they will use the information in aggregate but there is nothing that says they can’t or couldn’t use it to specifically target a worksite. Additionally, according to an article HERE by Fisher and Phillips, OSHA director Michaels said last year that OSHA will continue to use “Regulation by shaming” as a way of improving worker safety.

Some have said they will highlight good employers which according to the same article, seems unlikely. Director Michaels has taken most of the carrots like the VPP and STAR programs out and gutted the OSHA consultation service. It is much more likely they will publicize the bad actors and since the summary of injuries must be posted at each place of employment currently, a simple FOIA request would get every single workplace injury and illness summary making it a windfall for plaintiff attorneys.

Rest assured we will monitor the progress of this rule making and comment as appropriate but understand, what this administration seems to not be able to pass in traditional manners, they pass by edict. We will keep on top of this.