OSHA Reiterates Plans to Make Workplace Injury Reports Public in 2015

Based on comments made at the end of April, it looks as if the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is going ahead with plans to make workplace accident reports public by the end of the year.

Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health (who is in charge of OSHA), was in Cleveland to speak about workplace safety to the Cleveland City Club and classes held at Safety Controls Technology, one of 25 organizations across the country that teaches OSHA safety courses.

Under OSHA’s plan, reports would be made available to the public online. Employee personal information would be redacted, but accident histories for the employers would be viewable. OSHA has said the move will promote better accountability; employers and some safety advocates, however, have expressed concerns that accident information can be easily misinterpreted when looked at out of context.

OSHA has already implemented big changes recently, with new reporting requirements having gone into effect Jan. 1 of this year. Employers must now report any injury that requires hospitalization (excluding simple emergency room visits), or ones that result in the loss of an eye or limb.

That burden may not seem onerous from a lay perspective, but Michaels said that the agency knows from independent studies that some employers are failing to meet even that standard.

Between the beginning of the year and the end of April, Michaels said the administration has gotten about 3,800 accident reports. In 2013, there were approximately 3,007,300 reported workplace injuries, for comparison’s sake.

“We think we’re only getting a very small portion of the accidents that should be reported,” Michaels said, according to Crain’s Cleveland Business. He also encouraged workers to report failings themselves if they suspected their employers were not doing so.

A report released by the administration earlier this year found that workplace injuries have serious negative effects not only for individual workers, but also for the overall economy. It recommended that a combination of injury prevention efforts and more streamlined workers’ compensation systems are needed to ameliorate those effects.

“The failure of many employers to prevent millions of work injuries and illnesses each year, and the failure of the broken workers’ compensation system to ensure that workers do not bear the costs of their injuries and illnesses, are truly adding inequality to injury,” the report concluded.

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