OSHA Again Delays New Rule’s Anti-Retaliation Provisions
OSHA has agreed to further delay enforcement of the anti-retaliation provisions in its new injury and illness tracking rule until Dec. 1, 2016.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas requested the delay to allow additional time to consider a motion challenging the new provisions.
The anti-retaliation provisions were originally scheduled to begin Aug. 10, 2016, but were previously delayed until Nov. 10 to allow time for outreach to the regulated community.
The new rule’s anti-retaliation provisions are a mandate to inform employees that they have a right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation by their employer.
Although the substantive obligations of employers and protections for employees will not change, the new mandate may result in greater employee awareness leading to increased claim activity or protected activity.
The final rule also adds new text to the existing standard clarifying that reporting procedures must not discourage employees from coming forward to report a work-related injury or unsafe work condition.
This aspect of the rule targets employer initiatives, such as incentive programs intended to promote safety—by, for example, providing rewards for consecutive injury-free days—but which unintentionally may discourage employees from reporting injuries.
The final injury and illness reporting rule, issued May 11, 2016, amends current recordkeeping regulations to require the electronic submission of injury and illness information employers already maintain under existing standards.
Under the new rule, if your business had 250 or more employees at any time during the previous calendar year and you are currently required to keep injury and illness records (i.e., your industry is already covered by the recordkeeping regulation), you must electronically submit injury and illness information from OSHA Forms 300, 300A, and 301 to OSHA annually.
OSHA expects that public disclosure of work injury data will encourage employers to increase their safety efforts.
If your company is not in either of these two categories, then you must submit information from the injury and illness records to OSHA only if OSHA notifies you to do so for an individual data collection.
OSHA will provide a secure website for the electronic submission of information.
Public Disclosure of Employer Records
In creating the new rule, OSHA says it is “applying the insights of behavioral economics to improve workplace safety and prevent injuries and illnesses”—meaning that the agency plans to post to its website the injury and illness information electronically submitted by businesses.
OSHA expects that public disclosure of work injury data will encourage employers to increase their safety efforts in much the same way as public disclosure of restaurants’ sanitary conditions encourages restaurant owners to improve food safety.
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