The rollback of a 2016 OSHA reporting rule is being challenged in federal court by six separate states. The rule change affects large employers, including those in Pennsylvania. The challenge to the rule may affect how states implement health and safety programs for workers.
In the past, large employers were required to maintain records of each workplace injury or work-related illness. The records were to be secured and to be made available to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors upon demand. In 2016, the Obama administration added a further step to the record keeping. It required employers to electronically transmit this information to OSHA annually.
The new OSHA administration began to seek a change in this rule beginning in July of 2018 when it published a proposed rulemaking proposal. On January of 2019, the change went into effect. Large employers are no longer required to submit injury data to OSHA. However, records must still be kept.
A federal lawsuit was filed in which the attorney generals of six states joined. The plaintiff states allege there is no rational basis for the rule change. In addition, they claim the data received from OSHA is important to target meaningful health and safety areas and create programs to address the most common injuries or illnesses. OSHA claims the transmission of this data creates a risk of invading the privacy of both the employer and workers. In the end, it claims the risk of privacy violation outweighs the benefits received.
OSHA remains the most important federal agency for preventing workplace injuries and illnesses. For those injured on the job, or those who have suffered an illness related to employment, workers compensation benefits are available. Workers compensation is administered by the state. In these cases, an experienced workers compensation attorney might be able to help in the collection of all benefits allowed by law.