On Thursday, January 24, 2019, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced its final rule on Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses (available here), which rescinds the Obama-era requirement for large employers (those with 250 or more employees) to electronically submit OSHA Forms 300 and 301. All employers covered by the injury and illness recordkeeping rule (those with 10 or more employees) must continue to maintain OSHA Forms 300 and 301 and produce them upon request to OSHA during an inspection, but OSHA is no longer requiring any employer to submit them electronically on an annual basis. Large employers, as well as medium-size employers (those with 20-249 employees) in certain designated industries, are still required to electronically submit information from Form 300A, which is the annual summary of injury and illness data included on Form 300. Those submissions must now be accompanied by an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
OSHA explains that its rescission of the Form 300/301 electronic submission requirement “is a deregulatory action under Executive Order 13771,” referring to President Trump’s directive to “cut red tape” by reducing government regulation and controlling regulatory costs. OSHA believes this deregulatory action “will benefit worker privacy” by preventing the collection and potential disclosure of the “quite sensitive” worker information contained on Forms 300 and 301. OSHA concluded that protecting worker privacy is more important than spending agency resources “developing a Web portal for, and then collecting, manually reviewing, and analyzing data” that is uncertain to yield “any incremental benefits” for the agency’s enforcement initiatives. OSHA estimates savings of $16 million per year between the government and private sector by eliminating this data collection and review process.
Given that OSHA will no longer be collecting Forms 300 and 301 electronically, the agency has likewise abandoned the Obama administration’s initiative stated in the prior version of the rule (available here) “to post the data from these submissions on a publicly accessible Web site.” Even if the data was collected, “OSHA has determined publishing the data would do more harm than good,” because fears of employers and employees alike over sensitive information being publicized could actually result in less accurate records.
For more information about this new rule, please contact a member of Taft's Employment practice group.