OSHA in Hot Water
The Public Citizens Health Research Group is just one of several health advocacy groups that have filed a lawsuit against OSHA for rolling back electronic recordkeeping requirements, which were initially published in May 2016.
The Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illness final rule was published after an exhaustive process where OSHA concluded that requiring the submission of workplace injury and illness data would greatly enhance worker health and safety.
Related Article: OSHA Makes Changes to Recordkeeping Standard
Recordkeeping Requirements Rollback & Blow Back
Initially, OSHA required that establishments with 250 or more employees, or those with 20 to 249 employees in certain industries, submit Forms 300 and 301 detailing occupational injuries and illnesses.
Now, OSHA has rolled back the rule to only require Form 300A data — a more broad, annual summary of injuries and illnesses.
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The Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, along with the American Public Health Association, Council of State, and Territorial Epidemiologists are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit that seeks to rescind OSHA’s new rule announced Jan. 25th.
The groups argue that OSHA did not provide “a reasoned explanation for reversing its position regarding the risks and benefits” on the May 2016 rule. The lawsuit also states that opposing comments were not adequately considered before the agency made changes.
Public Citizen attorney Michael Kirkpatrick stated in a Jan. 25 press release: “OSHA has now rushed through a new rule drawing exactly the opposite conclusion, but OSHA has failed to provide any good reason for reversing itself.”
OSHA’s Position on Changing the Recordkeeping Requirements
OSHA states that its main reason for the rollback is to protect worker privacy from any accidental disclosure of sensitive information.
The new rule states that “although OSHA believes data from Forms 300 and 301 would be exempt from disclosure under [Freedom of Information Act] exemptions, OSHA is concerned that it still could be required by a court to release the data. Many commenters echoed this concern.”
These same public health groups also filed suit when OSHA announced the rollback in May 2017, contending that the action was a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act’s notice-and-comment protocol.
OSHA sought to dismiss the lawsuit, but the motion was denied on Dec. 12.
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