Washington — Nearly three dozen House Democrats say they are “deeply concerned” that OSHA’s rollback of its electronic recordkeeping rule “endangers worker protections and undermines hard-fought gains,” and are urging Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta to rescind the rule.
“Until 2016 – when the rule was enacted – most workplace injury records were difficult for many workers to obtain and inaccessible to researchers and the public,” the 34 legislators wrote in letter sent to Acosta on March 12. “At that time, workers in many of our most dangerous industries did not have the necessary information to protect themselves against dangers in the workplace, and the administration’s reversal risks putting them back in this same situation.”
OSHA’s Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses final rule required covered establishments with 250 or more employees or those in certain high-hazard industries with 20 to 249 employees to electronically submit to the agency data from Forms 300, 300A and 301.
Citing privacy concerns, OSHA issued a final rule on Jan. 25 to require submission of only Form 300A, a yearly summary of injury and illness data, instead of the two more detailed forms.
“We object to claims by the administration that the final rule is designed to protect workers’ privacy,” the letter states. “The final rule did not require employers to send the personal information of any individual, and any personal information that OSHA may possess is confidential and, as such, cannot be obtained under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.”
By weakening workplace safety reporting, the group claims, outside organizations and researchers are being denied critical data that could be used to help find solutions to enhance worker safety and health.
Attorneys general of six states filed a lawsuit on March 6 seeking to reverse the rollback. Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, the American Public Health Association, and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists filed a similar lawsuit on Jan. 25.
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