The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced on Thursday that it is considering eliminating the requirement that large firms file injury reports online out of fear that workers’ personal information could be exposed.
OSHA issued a rule in May 2016 that required employers with 250 or more employees to use OSHA’s online Injury Tracking Application (ITA) to file Form 300, which logs work-related injuries and illnesses; Form 300A, a summary of those injuries and illnesses; and Form 301, the injury and illness report. Smaller companies, those with between 20 and 249 workers, were only required to file Form 300A.
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As a summary document, the data on Form 300A is fairly innocuous and is required to be posted in the workplace at the end of each year. However, Forms 300 and 301 both include sensitive, personally identifiable information. That information could be revealed in Freedom of Information Act requests, OSHA noted.
While it’s possible this information could be found exempt from a FOIA request, according to OSHA, it’s also possible that a court might disagree.
Beyond the privacy risks to workers, OSHA is reconsidering how valuable the information on Forms 300 and 301 actually are. Even without specific information about the type of injury and body part affected, Form 300A provides OSHA with enough information to determine whether enforcement actions are appropriate, the agency noted.
“OSHA has preliminarily determined that the risk of disclosure of this information, the costs to OSHA of collecting and using the information, and the reporting burden on employers are unjustified given the uncertain benefits of collecting the information,” the agency wrote in the draft notice.
Today’s announcement is only a notice of OSHA’s intent to propose an amended rule. A draft of the proposed amendment can be found here. Once the notice is published in the Federal Register, firms will have 60 days to submit a comment on how the change would affect them.
According to the draft notice, eliminating the reporting requirement for Forms 300 and 301 could save companies in the private sector nearly $8.7 million per year.