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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will delay the electronic record-keeping rule's submission deadline until Dec. 15.
OSHA initially wanted certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data by July 1, but the portal wasn't made available on the agency's website until Aug. 1. OSHA, therefore, postponed the submission deadline to Dec. 1—but it is now giving employers an extra two weeks.
"This delay will allow affected entities sufficient time to familiarize themselves with the electronic reporting system, which was not made available until Aug. 1, 2017," the agency announced on Nov. 22.
"Considering that OSHA only gave employers two additional weeks, I don't predict another delay beyond this one," said John Martin, an attorney with Ogletree Deakins in Washington, D.C.
Covered employers will be required to electronically submit data from their 2016 Form 300A—which is a summary of workplace injuries and illnesses. Businesses are already required to keep a record of this information and post it in the workplace from Feb. 1 until Apr. 30 of each year.
Eventually, large employers will have to electronically submit data from Form 300 (the injury and illness log) and Form 301 (incident reports for each injury or illness) as well.
[SHRM members-only how-to guide: How to complete OSHA Form 300]
Opposition to Electronic Record-Keeping
Business groups opposed the electronic record-keeping rule because some of the collected information will be made available to the public on the agency's website—which has created a lot of uncertainty for employers about what OSHA will do with this information, Martin said.
In two ongoing lawsuits challenging the rule, business groups argued that public disclosure would unreasonably harm employers.
The rule also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who report workplace injuries. The anti-retaliation provisions—which went into effect in December 2016—have also been challenged in court. The business groups oppose the agency's interpretation of these provisions, which place limitations on safety incentive programs and drug-testing policies that the agency says may deter workers from reporting incidents.
But President Donald Trump's administration may take a new look at the rule. "It is anticipated that OSHA will propose additional changes to this rule in the near future and OSHA will issue another Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register next year," according to Tressi L. Cordaro, an attorney with Jackson Lewis in Washington, D.C.
In both ongoing lawsuits, OSHA filed briefs to ask the courts to halt the litigation while the agency considers new rules—but OSHA hasn't provided a time frame. Agency staff have hinted that whatever they are planning is going to appease the business groups, Martin noted.
Awaiting New Leadership
The agency is still waiting for a new assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health to be appointed. On Oct. 27, Trump nominated Scott Mugno, vice president of safety, sustainability and vehicle maintenance at FedEx Ground, for the role. His Senate confirmation hearing is scheduled for Dec. 5.
There has been a lot of talk from the agency's staff about waiting for a new head of OSHA before deciding what direction to take, Martin said. "Hopefully that will happen soon."
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