Many employers, especially those in high-risk industries, are not shy about going public with their safety achievements. It’s not uncommon to see statements in plants or on the sides of trucks touting that the company has gone so many days or so many miles without an accident.

Companies are less likely to be as forthcoming about accidents that do result in workplace injuries. It doesn’t do much for the firm’s overall reputation. There may also be a fear that too much publicity will inspire a boost in their workers’ compensation insurance rates.

Federal safety regulators recently proposed some big changes in rules about how accidents get reported. Under the plan, companies with more than 250 workers would be required to submit quarterly safety reports electronically. Companies in certain industries known to have high injury and illness rates who have 20 or more employees would have to send in a summary of issues once a year.

Current rules only require companies to post yearly summaries in company common areas where employees can see them.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says the change would affect about 500,000 companies. Officials say the electronic filing would make it possible to post the reports online, boosting public scrutiny and bringing pressure on companies to adhere to safety rules that are already in place.

Not surprisingly, business groups are pushing back. They say the raw injury data that would be provided would offer no contextualization and that could lead to misinterpretation. Worse, they say the information could be somehow misused by those who oppose certain companies.

The proposal is now open to a 90-day reaction period from any interested parties. OSHA plans to hold a public hearing Jan. 9 to consider comments and make a final decision.

Source: MyFoxPhilly.com, “OSHA plans to make workplace safety reports public,” Sam Hananel, Associated Press, Nov. 7, 2013