Three public health organizations sued the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on Jan. 25, a day after it released a final rule eliminating a previously approved requirement for employers with more than 250 employees to electronically submit detailed workplace injury and illness information to the agency.
The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, the American Public Health Association and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. It alleges the rule rollback violates the Administrative Procedure Act.
“As set forth in the complaint, OSHA’s rollback is arbitrary and capricious, is not a product of reasoned decision-making, lacks support in the record, fails to adequately respond to public comments opposing it and undermines worker health and safety,” Public Citizen said in a press release.
The deadline for electronic submissions is March 2, 2019. The plaintiffs asked the court to require OSHA to accept recordkeeping data within 30 days in accordance with the original 2016 rule.
The final rule published last week in the Federal Register requires employers to electronically submit information from Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) on an annual basis, but eliminates required submission of Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report). All OSHA logs must still be maintained onsite and remain subject to inspection and enforcement actions.
In addition, the final rules requires covered employers to submit their Employer Identification Number electronically along with their injury and illness data submission to facilitate use of the data and help reduce duplicative employer reporting. According to a summary of the rule, “these actions together will allow OSHA to improve enforcement targeting and compliance assistance, decrease burden on employers, and protect worker privacy and safety.”
By preventing routine government collection of potentially sensitive personally identifiable health information, including descriptions of workers’ injuries and body parts affected, the agency is avoiding the risk that such information might be publicly disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, OSHA stated in a news release. OSHA said the rule change will also allow it to focus on responding to severe injury reports rather than collecting and processing information.