OSHA Extends Comment Period on Proposed Record-Keeping Rule

By Roy Maurer Jan 7, 2014
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is extending the comment period on the proposed rule for the electronic submission of injury and illness information by 30 days, to March 8, 2014. The original deadline to submit comments was Feb. 6.

The comment period has been extended in response to a request from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), according to a notice published Jan. 7, 2014, in the Federal Register.

NAHB Chairman Rick Judson requested an extension because builders already had their hands full preparing comments for OSHA’s proposed silica regulations, due Jan. 27. “The concurrent comment periods do not allow ample time for builders to focus on each proposal separately and in depth to provide meaningful insight,” Judson said in a letter to OSHA.

The agency’s public hearing on the proposed record-keeping rule will still take place Jan. 9 at the Labor Department in Washington, D.C.

“The extension ensures that stakeholders will have a full 120 days to submit comments, which OSHA believes is adequate for this limited rulemaking,” the agency said. “The extension also ensures that stakeholders who attend the Jan. 9, 2014, public hearing on the proposed rule will have an opportunity to incorporate into their comments their views on relevant information presented at the meeting.”

On Nov. 8, 2013, OSHA published a proposed rule revising its record-keeping regulations. The proposal would require the nation’s 38,000 covered employers that have more than 250 workers to electronically submit injury and illness data each quarter to OSHA. The 440,000 U.S. companies with more than 20 employees but fewer than 250 in certain industries with high injury and illness rates would be required to electronically submit their summary of work-related injuries and illnesses (Form 300A) annually to OSHA. The agency plans to eventually post the data online.

“The main purpose of this rulemaking is to improve workplace safety and health through the collection and use of timely, establishment-specific injury and illness data,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels in November.

“With the changes being proposed in this rule, employers, employees, the government and researchers will have better access to data that will encourage earlier abatement of hazards and result in improved programs to reduce workplace hazards and prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities.” Michaels repeatedly stressed that the proposal does not add any new requirements to keep records; rather it only “modifies an employer’s obligation to transmit these records to OSHA.”

All comments must contain the docket number OSHA-2013-0023 or the regulatory information number (RIN) 1218-AC49. Comments may be submitted electronically through the federal eRulemaking portal or via fax (if 10 pages or fewer) to (202) 693-1648. Alternatively, written comments may be sent in triplicate to: OSHA Docket Office, Docket Number OSHA-2013-0023, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-2625, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20210.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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