ATTORNEY GENERAL RAOUL JOINS LETTER SUPPORTING OSHA’S PROPOSED RULE TO BETTER PROTECT WORKERS, PROMOTE WORKPLACE SAFETY
Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined a coalition of attorneys general in supporting a proposed federal rule that would empower workers and expand public awareness of on-the-job dangers.
The proposed rule would require many employers to report significantly more detailed information about workplace injuries and illnesses to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and would make that information publicly available. In a letter submitted Monday to U.S. Secretary of Labor Martin J. Walsh, Raoul and the other 16 participating attorneys general expressed support for the proposed rule, describing it as “a significant improvement” on current reporting requirements.
The new rule will empower workers, encourage the improvement of working conditions, and provide for added transparency, the attorneys general note. As the letter observes, transparency will help state regulators more effectively enforce state labor and safety laws and address workplace hazards, while at the same time increasing understanding of occupational dangers among job seekers, researchers, the general public and others.
“Having sound data on workplace injuries allows employers to improve safety, which benefits everyone,” Raoul said. “Employees deserve safe working environments. Having better information about potential hazards could also reduce employers’ costs in defending against workers’ compensation claims and potentially prevent costs from being passed on to consumers.”
Among other things, the proposed rule would require certain employers with more than 100 employees in high-risk industries to annually submit three detailed forms to OSHA electronically: a Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300), an Injury and Illness Report (OSHA Form 301), and summary information (OSHA Form 300A). These submissions to OSHA would exclude any employee-identifying information and, critically, would be made available to the public electronically.
The proposed rule would also largely maintain the current requirement that employers with 20 or more employees in certain industries submit information from the summary form on an annual basis.
In the letter, Raoul and the coalition stress the limitations of the current rule, which requires employers to submit only annual summary information. Far more can be learned, the letter observes, from some of the information collected on the Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300) and the Injury and Illness Report (OSHA Form 301).
These two forms collect detailed, narrative information about each injury or illness. Together, they paint a picture of the nature and severity of workplace safety incidents, rather than simply the number of reported cases. This includes explaining what an employee was doing before the accident, how the injury occurred, what the specific injury or illness was and which part or parts of the employee’s body were affected. The forms also include information regarding where on the premises the injury happened, the affected employee’s job title and what object or substance directly harmed the employee.
The letter also praises the steps OSHA takes in the proposed rule to ensure that workers’ privacy and identifying information are safeguarded.
To increase public awareness about the data that will be made available by the proposed rule, Raoul and the attorneys general suggest OSHA consider requiring that designated industries post information about the availability of the data, conduct outreach programs in collaboration with state departments of labor and health, and create partnerships with non-profit and non-governmental industries to provide training and outreach.
Joining Attorney General Raoul in supporting the proposed OSHA reporting rule are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.