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OSHA postpones rule on safety reporting

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is giving employers more time to comply with a new rule which would require employees to report workers' injuries in electronic format. Although employers were expected to start electronic reporting on July 1 of this year, OSHA has given no indication of when it will expect electronic reports.

Employers already have an obligation to keep track of their workplace accidents involving an injury. However, this did not stop some groups of employers from opposing the new rule. Specifically, some employers are worried that the new process will in fact give trade unions or even individual activist workers the ability to look at an employer's safety record and then use it to harm a company's reputation.

One well-known business group, the United States Chamber of Commerce, expressed concern that information about workplace injuries could give the general public and others a false impression that an employer with records of injuries does not care about the safety of its employees. Indeed, all workplace injuries have to be reported, and not just those that are related to federal or state safety violations.

Some groups of businesses, however, seem more willing to turn over their information via electronic means and would have been willing to do so on the day of the original deadline. These business groups pointed out that the information improves overall workplace safety which, in addition to being an important human concern, also helps the economy since workplace injuries cost valuable resources.

Whether this delay signals a change in OSHA's overall approach to workplace safety or is simply for practical reasons is not clear. Fortunately, the news has no direct impact on workers' compensation laws in New York. A Schenectady resident who needs workers' compensation after a workplace injury would still need to report his or her claim in order to get benefits.

Source: Equipment World, "DOL suspends OSHA's rule requiring companies electronically report injuries and illnesses," Kerry Clines, May 23, 2017.

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