A new final rule from the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) aimed at improving the tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses announced Wednesday is drawing fire from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).
The new rule mandates that some employers in “high-hazard” industries to send their data on illness and injury incidents to OSHA electronically for inclusion in a public database. The agency already requires many employers to maintain documentation of workplace injuries and illnesses, but much of that information is not available to the public. The agency said in a press release that it is working toward building “the largest publicly available data set on work injuries and illnesses,” that will enable researchers to identify new workplace hazards, gauge the effectiveness of present injury and illness prevention measures, and study the causes of injuries.
In the wake of OSHA’s announcement of the rule on Wednesday, NAM issued a sharp rebuttal criticizing the new requirements.
In a statement bearing the headline, “New Recordkeeping Regulation Could Lead to Public Shaming,” Rosario Palmieri, NAM vice president of labor, legal, and regulatory policy said, “This regulation will lead to the unfair and unnecessary public shaming of these businesses. This is a misguided attempt at transparency that sacrifices employee and employer privacy, allows for distribution of proprietary information and creates burdens for all manufacturers.”
The new final rule also emphasizes employees’ right to report workplace injuries and illnesses without reprisal for the company by including language that said requires employers to provide a “reasonable procedure for reporting work-related injuries that does not discourage employees from reporting,” OSHA’s press release said.
“Today, this administration put a target on nearly every company and manufacturer in the United States,” Palmieri said, adding that NAM plans on looking “at all options to protect manufacturers from this certain threat to the modern shop floor.”
Meanwhile, labor group AFL-CIO praised the rule in its own statement as a measure that “will bring workplace injury and illness reporting into the 21st century and provide important new protections to workers who report injuries.”
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called OSHA’s inclusion of parameters for workers reporting injury and illness incidents “important protections” in the statement.
“For far too long, in an effort to keep reported injury rates low, employers have retaliated against workers for reporting injuries, disciplining them for every injury or creating barriers to reporting. Now these violations will be subject to citations and penalties. With these stronger protections, workers will be more willing to report injuries, which will help with overall prevention,” Trumka said.