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OSHA To Require Employers To Publicly Disclose Workers' Injury And Illness

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The Department of Labor is pushing through with its controversial plan of reporting information about workplace injuries and illnesses online.

According to the new rule announced Wednesday, employers in dangerous industries – such as construction, manufacturing, and trucking – are now required to submit data on workplace injuries to the federal government, which will then release the details on a public website.

David Michaels, who heads the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), said that making injury data transparent will make employers better focus on safety to shield their reputation.

“Employers want to be seen as the top employers in their industry. No employer wants to be seen publicly as offering a dangerous workplace,” said Michaels on a call with reporters, dubbing it as behavioral economics at work.

No new costs will be inflicted on businesses since companies falling under the new rule should already be amassing the data, Michaels added.

While many employers in the U.S. are already required to collect injury information, the data largely go unnoticed in the current system. The new rule will allow OSHA to post them on its website and enable different parties – from workers to researchers and safety groups – to access the records based on specific worksites.

As President Barack Obama’s presidency is wrapping up, this rule and other new labor regulations are emerging. These reforms include expanding overtime pay availability, blocking low-road firms from securing federal contracts, and limiting the exposure of workers to known carcinogen silica.

While labor advocates believe that the reporting requirements will indeed promote greater transparency, trade groups representing employers have expressed their criticism.

“This administration put a target on nearly every company and manufacturer in the United States,” Rosario Palmieri, vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) said in a statement, adding that the regulation will result in “unfair and unnecessary public shaming” of the businesses and will sacrifice privacy of both employers and employees.

Bureau of Labor Statistics show that over 3 million workers every year are injured or experience an illness on the job.

The new rule will begin July 2017, when employers need to electronically submit relevant data to OSHA, which also has safeguards in place to protect reporting employees from retaliation.

Photo: Jan Carson | Flickr

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