A rule finalized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Wednesday that would make workplace injury data recorded by employers publicly accessible may force them to rethink drug testing and other policies that could discourage employee reports of safety incidents and embolden unions to target workplaces with shaky safety records.
Under the new rule, which was published in Wednesday’s Federal Register, employers would be required to submit illness and injury data electronically to OSHA, which will then post the data on a publicly accessible website.
Employers would also be required under the new rule, which will fully take effect in January 2017, to inform workers of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation. Additionally, employers’ policies for reporting safety incidents must be “reasonable” and can’t deter employees from reporting, according to the rule.
“By making the illness and injury database publicly available on its website, OSHA is hoping to ‘nudge’ employers to enhance their injury-prevention programs and decrease the number of workplace injuries and illnesses,” said McCarter & English LLP employment attorney Tiffany R. Hubbard, referencing language used in the rule.