Our nation has undergone swift changes since Donald Trump assumed the presidency, and now it’s about to undergo another. Recently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has begun to instruct a number of “companies to begin submitting their injury records.” However, with the deadline to do so approaching, there is no website set up for workplaces to submit the requested records, meaning they can’t comply with OSHA’s request.
According to David Michaels, “who headed OSHA under President Barack Obama and is now a professor at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health,” the problem is that the secretary of labor, Alexander Acosta, isn’t allowing OSHA to post the website that will allow companies to submit their records. This means “tens of thousands of employers will be in violation of the law,” Michaels said. To avoid being in violation of the law, Michaels said “law-abiding employers are asking where to send their information in. OSHA is ignoring the law.”
But what exactly are the details behind the request for companies to submit injury records? When were these new rules enacted? For starters, the new rules “went into effect on Jan. 1,” and will “be phased in over two years.” Under the new rules, employers “must electronically submit data from their injury and illness logs by July 1. In addition, companies are barred from retaliating against workers who report such incidents.” The goal of the new rules is to “encourage employers to improve their injury rates, allow workers to understand the risks associated with their workplaces and help federal investigators prioritize investigations.”
While this may sound all well and good, companies are running into problems when trying to send in their records. In fact, the agency’s website says: “OSHA is not accepting electronic submissions at this time.” So what are companies to do? Understandably, many employers are upset over this, but some are also upset over the new rules in general. In fact, some industry groups “have challenged the new requirements in federal courts in Oklahoma and Texas,” arguing that “the new rules would force employers to disclose private information.” Some also argue that “OSHA is overreaching its authority.”
Ed Brady, immediate past chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, said in a recent statement:
“Not only does OSHA not have the authority to do this, it also exposes a business to significant reputational harm, all without demonstrating any evidence that it would effectively reduce workplace injuries and illnesses. Workplace safety is of the utmost concern of our members, however the rule is unlawful and does not serve its intended purpose of improving workplace safety.”
So far, the Labor Department hasn’t responded to requests for comment.