The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently laid out new rules and regulations around injury and illness electronic reporting that would also aim to prevent retaliatory actions from employers. The guidelines were set to be enforced beginning on August 10, 2016, a date that has since been pushed back to November 1, 2016, at the request of industry stakeholders that have some concerns about the rules.
A recent report from The Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC) explained that a variety of organizations (including the ABC) were concerned about a few issues within the rules, including:
The new regulation would mandate that injury and illness reports given to OSHA would be created and filed electronically. At that point, OSHA would be able to publish those documents on the internet in a searchable database. The ABC report pointed out that the data will be used for enforcement purposes, but OSHA has only collected and used these types of electronic reports if a facility is inspected or is part of a special OSHA program.
There are concerns that making this sensitive information publicly available will lead to misinterpretation and misuse by a variety of industry stakeholders, the report said.
The new OSHA regulation would also limit drug testing and similar initiatives after an employee is injured or sick. The goal is to prevent employers from using these to retaliate against employees when they are ill or dealing with an injury. The problem, according to the news source, is that these measures often play a critical role in preserving health and safety, and the limitations set forth in the new rules could compromise those goals.
The ABC had set an injunction in place to prevent OSHA from putting these rules into action, leading to the delay to November 1, 2016, providing more time for industry stakeholders to adjust to the guidelines and provide OSHA with feedback.
Preparing for November 1
As new regulations come into play, organizations must train their staff to follow best practices and comply with the guidelines set forth by OSHA. Industrial training can help your staff identify precisely how they should document and track incidents in the workplace and work-related illnesses reported by employees. Getting ahead on skills development can ensure your staff is ready to make electronic reports and adequately protect sensitive data while still complying with new OSHA standards.