OSHA Issues Final Rule Eliminating Requirements for Employers to Electronically Submit OSHA Forms 300 and 301
Today, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a trade release stating that it will publish a final rule to eliminate requirements for establishments with 250 or more employees to electronically submit information from the OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report).
The draft final rule is currently available to the public, and is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on January 25, 2019.
The new final rule reflects OSHA’s stance on protecting worker privacy, arguing that the collection of potentially sensitive personal health information contained in Forms 300 and 301 creates an unacceptable risk that such information might be publicly disclosed under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
At the same time, health and safety advocacy groups including Public Citizen, the American Public Health Association and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists have expressed concerns over the removal of Form 300 and 301 submission requirements, arguing that the data is necessary to protect workers and hold employers accountable for hazardous workplaces.
On July 25, 2018, the group filed a suit against OSHA challenging the removal of those requirements from the current Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses final rule. Their claim is based on the argument that OSHA’s removal of those submission requirements ignored the public notice and comment provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). On November 13, 2018, OSHA filed a motion to dismiss the case, but that motion was subsequently denied by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on December 12, 2018. At the time of this article, the ruling in that case has not yet been decided.
Some industry observers believe the timing of the Final Rule is an effort by OSHA to provide regulatory certainty for affected employers in advance of the upcoming March 2, 2019 reporting deadline. Others view the new final rule as an effort to remove Form 300 and 301 submission requirements before a decision in the Public Citizen case can be made.
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