August 4, 2016

Have you ever wondered how safe your current (or a prospective) workplace really is? Well, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently enacted a new compliance measure, requiring roughly 750,000 employers (which operate about 1.5 million workplaces) to submit detailed annual reports regarding work-related injuries and illnesses online as of 2017. This new rule is reportedly set to take effect this month.

The New OSHA Rule: A Look at the Details & Requirements

OSHA to Publish Employer’s Injury & Illness Reports Online

OSHA to Publish Employer’s Injury & Illness Reports Online

According to the new OSHA reporting rule, businesses that have more than 250 employees and/or at least 20 employees in high-risk positions are required to file these online reports every year.

The new rule also includes provisions stipulating that:

  • Employers that try to retaliate against “whistleblowers” or employees who report employers’ violations of OSHA requirements will be subject to penalties.
  • Reporting safety data to OSHA will only have to occur on an annual basis (rather than a quarterly basis).
  • Prior to making any employer report available online, all sensitive and personal information will be stripped or blacked out of these reports.
  • States that have their own occupational safety and health laws must incorporate “substantially identical” requirements for online injury and illness reporting. These measures must be adopted within six months.

Pros and Cons of Reporting Workplace Injuries and Illnesses

OSHA officials are hopeful that this new reporting rule will improve workplace safety across the U.S. – and enhance employers’ compliance with OSHA regulations (due to the increased transparency).

There are, however, various critics of this rule. These critics contend that:

  • The new rule for publishing workplace injuries and illnesses online would lead to public shaming of employers and blame for injuries, illnesses or accidents that are sometimes out their control.
  • Data on injuries and illnesses is already being tracked by companies and shared with OSHA during regular inspections or surveys.
  • The new rule could bring new (and more) enforcement actions against employers, which could, in turn, impact company wellness incentive programs and drug-testing policies for injured workers.

Opposing these critics, labor unions and organizations generally embrace the new rule. As Christine Owens, executive director at the National Employment Law Project, has explained:

More than 4,800 workers were killed on the job in 2014; almost 3 million more suffered serious injuries… This is an unconscionable toll of workplace disease and death for a 21st-century economy, and OSHA must do all it can to improve the safety and health of America’s workers. 

Contact a Denver Business Attorney at Downey & Associates, PC

For experienced, effective representation in an employment law or other business dispute, contact Denver Business Attorney Thomas E. Downey. Since 1983, Thomas Downey and the other legal professionals at Downey & Associates, PC have been providing exceptional representation for various business legal issues, including those related to OSHA compliance issues, contract negotiations, and corporate governance issues.

Our dedication to our clients, coupled with our extensive experience handling complex matters of corporate and real estate law, means that our clients can always trust that we will aggressively protect their rights and help them achieve the best possible outcomes to their sensitive legal matters.

Call our Denver business attorney today at (303) 813-1111, or email our firm using the contact form on this page.

From law offices based in Centennial, we serve clients throughout Colorado and the U.S.

Categories: Maintaining a Business, OSHA Violations, Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, Wrongful Termination