The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a new rule recently that requires businesses in high-risk industries to electronically report injuries and illnesses daily so workers are better informed about workplace hazards and how to avoid them. The new rule is designed to make the workplace safer for millions of employees across the country in fields such as manufacturing, construction, grocery and nursing care, among many others.
OSHA currently requires employers to track workplace safety, but does not require the data to be sent to OSHA for daily publication on the organization’s website. This means that there is no information on the more than three million workers who suffer workplace injuries every year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The new regulation’s effect is to “nudge” employers toward safer workplaces, because the information released publicly could deter prospective investors and potential employees, according to Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. David Michaels.
The new rule, which goes into effect in August with some phased-in data submissions starting in 2017, also features provisions designed to bolster the rights of workers. The following are the ways in which the new OSHA rule will limit workplace hazards and make things safer for workers.
Provides a Way for Workers to Self-Report Injury or Illness
Although employers were required to collect data on workplace injuries and illnesses prior to the new rule, they were not required to make it easy for employees to report their injuries and illnesses. Under the new law, employers must set up a and explain a “reasonable” reporting system in order to make it easy for employees to report their injuries and illnesses. If the procedure is unreasonable it may deter workers from reporting injuries, and the new law is designed to prevent that.
Protects Workers from Retaliation for Reporting Injury or Illness
Some employees fear reporting an injury or illness out of fear of retaliation, such as being fired. The new rule explicitly states that employees can not be discriminated against for reporting an injury or illness.
This means that if you’re worried about losing hours or getting fired for reporting an injury, don’t be, because this rule now protects you.
Provides Workers with More Information on the Safety of Potential Employers
If you could choose between two companies in a dangerous field, one with a history of workplace injuries and one without, which would you choose? Most would choose the latter, but before this rule was put in place a prospective employee didn’t have this information to make a more informed decision. The new rule will create a database of all the workplace injuries that occur in many hazardous fields, and provide prospective employees with more information to make a more informed decision on where they will work.
Creates a Database That Will Make It Easier to Identify Most Common Injuries
It is now faster than ever to sort through large amounts of data to reveal patterns and trends.The new law will create a database that will allow data researchers to identify the most common workplace injuries in different industries. This will allow OSHA to pinpoint the greatest workplace hazards and develop methods to eliminate or mitigate their frequency. Eventually, this will help make the workplace safer by cutting down on the most frequent of the three million workplace injuries that occur each year.
If you were one of the millions of people injured at work this year, make sure you know your rights. For more information on what your rights are, please visit our workers’ compensation guide.