On-The-Job Injury and Illness Tracking Goes Public
Before applying for a job in a hazardous industry, on-the-job injury and illness tracking will allow applicants to check employer safety records
UPDATE As of March 22, 2017, OSHA’s website states the following:
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.
Reporting on-the-job injuries is not a new concept; OSHA has been keeping records of job-related injury and illness for decades but beginning in February 2017, these records will be made available to the public for the first time on the Department of Labor’s website. The Department of Labor (DOL) states that the new public availability will benefit both prospective employees and employers without adding any additional burden on employer. The DOL hopes that the new rule makes on-the-job injury and illness tracking easier and nudges employers to put safety first.
Legally all employers must provide their employees with a safe workplace and as previously mentioned, all on-the-job injuries must be logged and reported to OSHA. The final rule with respects to tracking of injuries and illness adds to the existing rule a requirement to file these logs electronically beginning in 2017. According to the Department of Labor, keeping electronic records doesn’t just make their jobs easier but allows employers to better track their performance amongst competitors as well.
Safer Workplaces Attract Skilled Workers
Citing a case study on nursing homes, OSHA has learned that companies that focus on quality generally have lower injury rates in the workplace. These workplaces typically have tightly managed work processes and training for their employees, reducing risk and injury overall.
“Our new rule will ‘nudge’ employers to prevent work injuries to show investors, job seekers, customers and the public they operate safe and well-managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target compliance assistance and enforcement resources, and enable ‘big data’ researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer.” – Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health
In the same article, on-the-job injury and illness tracking was likened to health inspector grades being posted on restaurant windows; a higher letter grade usually corresponded with an increase in patronage. Using the comparison, the overall belief here is that the best and most skilled workers will naturally seek out employers that make workplace safety a priority. Unlike the health inspection letter-grades, OSHA has no plans to grade employers but the data will be readily available should a prospective employee choose to seek it out.
What’s Required/How Does It Work?
The new rule, which took effect on January 1, 2017, requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data that is already required to be recorded on their onsite OSHA Injury and Illness forms. OSHA will provide a secure website which will give employers three options to submit this data: a web form, the ability to upload a CSV file (spreadsheet files), or for employers already keeping automated records, an API for their developers to setup up electronic data transfers. Employers have been keeping said records for decades but starting this year OSHA will start making them public.
The new reporting requirements will be phased-in over the next two years starting with employers with 250 or more employees and employers with 20-249 employees in high-risk industries. You can read more about the reporting requirements on OSHA’s website. For more information on who’s considered “high-risk” click here (OSHA PDF).