OSHA Will Post Hospitalization, Amputation Reports Online

The Occupational Safety & Health Reporter™ provides complete news coverage and documentation of federal and state occupational safety and health programs, standards, legislation, regulations,...

By Bruce Rolfsen

June 16 — OSHA is preparing to start making public the hospitalization and amputation information that employers are required to submit, agency administrator David Michaels said June 15.

Making summaries of the incidents available on OSHA's website within “the next few weeks” will encourage researchers and others to examine injury trends in specific locations and industries, Michaels said.

The OSHA administrator was addressing a National Academies of Sciences research committee looking at modernizing the collection and analysis of workplace injury and illness data (See related story).

Since Jan. 1, 2015, employers must notify the Occupational Safety and Health Administration within 24 hours of any incident where a worker is admitted to a hospital, suffers an amputation, or loses the use of an eye (79 Fed. Reg. 56,141).

In the mandate's first year, 10,388 reports were submitted.

The summaries, in a spreadsheet format, will include the name and address of each business filing a report in 2015, Michaels said. There also will be information about the event, such as the cause of the accident and the body part injured. The data will follow a format similar to that used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Michaels said. The summaries won't identify injured workers.

OSHA already provides summaries when people ask for the data, Michaels said. For several years OSHA has posted summaries of fatal accidents.

Sharing, Shaming

The sharing of the accident reports is part of a larger OSHA effort to make employer injury and illness data widely available, Michaels said.

On May 11, OSHA issued a final rule (RIN:1218-AC49) requiring about 466,000 worksites, including all with 250 or more employees, to submit electronically to the agency their annual OSHA injury and illness log data (81 Fed. Reg. 29,624).

Starting in 2017, OSHA will post the reports, scrubbed of personal identification information, on its website.

The electronic recordkeeping rule, which also includes provisions regulating incentive programs and drug testing, has been criticized by many business groups and Republican lawmakers as OSHA's attempt to shame employers by posting their injury and illness data online.

Marc Freedman, executive director of labor law policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told Bloomberg BNA June 16 that one of the problems with OSHA posting information is that the agency won't list whether inspectors alleged the employer had violated OSHA rules and the final outcome of an appeal.

OSHA officials have said that only about one-third of hospitalization and injury cases reported to the agency result in an inspection. The other cases are resolved after employers investigate the accident and tell OSHA what safety improvements are underway.

Freedman also pointed out that during the rulemaking process for hospitalization reporting regulation, OSHA didn't mention that it would publish information from employers. It wasn't until after the final rule was completed that Michaels said the agency could provide the data.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bruce Rolfsen in Washington at brolfsen@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com .