Breaking: OSHA Delays Electronic Injury Reporting

OSHA says it will postpone its upcoming deadline for companies to report injuries and illnesses through an online form.  About 450,000 companies would have had to comply on July First if the rule was not delayed.   Not really surprising that the agency announced the delay, since it never went live with the online form that companies needed to use to make the reports and there is still no one in charge of OSHA.

However, the delay is welcome since it avoids the potential train wreck of trying to educate industry on the requirement and how to comply in a very short time.

The delay does not mean that employees can ignore the other parts of the regulation.   The rule prohibits companies from discouraging reporting of injuries or punishing employees who are injured on the job.  It also had a prohibition on blanket testing of employees following an injury.

What happens next? At this point, here is everything OSHA has said publicly about the delay:

OSHA is not accepting electronic submissions of injury and illness logs at this time, and intends to propose extending the July 1, 2017 date by which certain employers are required to submit the information from their completed 2016 Form 300A electronically. Updates will be posted to this webpage when they are available.

Usually “delay” means the rule will become final at some future date, but there are reasons to question whether this one will ever go into force.  First, the new administration is looking at all of the Obama administration regulations.  in this case, OSHA may decide to reopen the rule for additional comment and revision, possibly killing it altogether.

Additionally, there are two different lawsuits challenging the electronic reporting requirement.  A ruling in one or both cases could strike down parts of the regulations, prompting OSHA to revisit the issue one way or another.

Finally, this delay could galvanize labor and other Trump opponents to file their own lawsuits.  We have already seen environmental groups pushing back in court.   This may be the issue that causes pushback on safety.

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