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OSHA issues new rule on workplace injury reporting

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a final rule that will modernize the way workplace injury data are collected in Minneapolis and nationwide. The new regulations, which will take effect Aug. 10, are designed to improve workplace safety.

Current federal regulations require employers to record worker injuries and illnesses in order to help them identify and fix safety hazards. Under the new rule, however, employers in dangerous industries will be required to report worker injuries and illnesses to OSHA, which will then be made publicly available on the agency's website.

OSHA believes making the information public will encourage employers to improve working conditions, much like the public disclosure of restaurant health department ratings pushes restaurant owners to improve kitchen sanitation and food safety. Prospective employees can use the data to choose the safest working environments, which should encourage employers to improve safety in order to compete for the best workers. In order to make sure the safety data are accurate, the new regulations also highlight an employee's right to self-report workplace injuries and illnesses without fear of employer retaliation. All personal information will be removed from the data before it is published. OSHA's website will be the largest publicly available data collection of workplace injuries and illnesses, giving researchers access to invaluable information on workplace safety.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 3 million workers suffer workplace injuries and illnesses every year in the U.S. Many of these workers file a workers' compensation claim to obtain medical and wage benefits while they recover. Some workers consult with an attorney before filing their claim to ensure it is properly prepared and to learn about their legal options.

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