LEGAL ISSUES

Proposed Workplace Safety Rule Could Affect 38,000 Businesses

The Department of Labor wants to create a public database of workplace injuries. Business owners are not pleased.
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A new proposal by the United States Labor Department could force business owners to begin publicly reporting workplace injuries and illnesses. According to The Wall Street Journal, it's a move initiated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which will create a public database of this information if the idea is approved.

Not surprisingly, business owners are enraged by the proposal, which would require about 38,000 businesses, with 250 employees or more, to provide a quarterly report of injuries. (The new rule would apply to businesses who must already report to OSHA--exemptions and partial exemptions are listed here.) Many fear this will paint an incomplete picture of the circumstances leading to those injuries and portray the businesses in an unfavorable light.

As one contractor, Brett McMahon told The Journal, "It's like reading just the plaintiff's side of a case."

The Chamber of Commerce also opposes the proposal. "Just because you have an injury, it does not mean there was employer fault," Marc Freedman, the Chamber's executive director of labor law policy, told The Journal. "Reporting the injury records does not tell the full story of the company."

While OSHA hopes that publicly disclosing injuries will force employers to take greater responsibility in making the workplace safer for employees, there are plenty of skeptics who believe this will merely encourage business owners to under-report injuries.

According to OSHA head David Michaels, however, the Department of Labor anticipates employees will keep their bosses in check.

As he told The Journal, "Employees will be able to tell if employers are under-reporting. That means business owners "are going to pay more attention to the accuracy of the data."

The public has until Feb. 6, 2014, to submit written comments on the proposal, and OSHA will hold a public meeting in January in Washington D.C. to discuss the proposal as well. To make your voice heard, submit your comments to the government here.

For more on how to prevent these issues before they arise, check out our guide on how to avoid common workplace safety hazards.

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Nov 8, 2013




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