The deadline for companies to comply with OSHA’s new requirement for electronic injury and illness reporting is July first. That’s when the regulations say many American companies must submit their injury and illness logs electronically. The change will allow OSHA to post company injury data online where it will be accessible to the public.
Just one problem. There is still no website for companies to post their data. If you go to the website where OSHA had planned to provide access to the online form, here is what you find:
Electronic Submission of Records
OSHA is not accepting electronic submissions of injury and illness logs at this time. Updates will be posted to this webpage when they are available.
Whether there are problems with the online form is an open question, but there are two very good reasons why OSHA has not gone live with the form yet.
First, the Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, just took office about a week ago. There is still no head for OSHA. This is an incredibly controversial regulation and the new administration will want to review the new rule before implementing it.
Second, there are at least two industry lawsuits trying to stop the new reporting rules from being put into place. In March, the Trump Administration asked the courts to hold off on any action while the government studied the impact of the rule.
An article published by the Center for Investigative Journalism includes an interview with David Michaels, who headed OSHA under the Obama Administration. He is concerned about the delay putting companies in limbo. “Law-abiding employers are asking where to send their information in. OSHA is ignoring the law.”
That said, most employers probably welcome the delay. Once their data is posted online, competitors, customers, labor groups, lawyers and the public will be able to glean a lot of information about their safety record. That said, companies need to be aware of two important points:
- Changes to drug testing and anti-retaliation rules are already in place. The regulations included bans on companies punishing employees who report injuries or discouraging them in any way. It also had a very confusion section that appears to rule out blanket drug tests after an injury. Those changes went into effect January first. Employers must comply with these provisions right now and the fines can be heavy.
- The July deadline for reporting is still in the regulations. Clearly companies can’t report if there is no online way to comply, but that doesn’t let them off the hook. The courts could order the government to move forward prior to July first and then companies will have to scramble to meet the deadline. What would need to happen (and is likely to happen) is for OSHA to announce a delay in enforcement until the regulations have been fully reviewed.
Bottom Line: Companies need to be aware of the deadline and monitor any changes that could lead to implementation.
Need help interpreting and complying with the anti-retaliation sections of the rule or looking for ways to reduce your injury rate? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.