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  • Louise Esola

OSHA proposes changes to record-keeping rule to protect privacy

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Thursday it plans to rescind parts of its 2017 record-keeping regulation to protect the privacy of employees injured on the job.

OSHA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to protect personally identifiable information or data that could be re-identified with a particular individual by removing provisions of the Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses rule.

According to a draft of the notice published on OSHA’s Web site Thursday, the proposal would amend the 2017 record-keeping regulation “by rescinding the requirement for establishments with 250 or more employees to electronically submit information from OSHA Forms 300 and 301. These establishments will continue to be required to submit information from their Form 300A summaries.”

OSHA reports that it is amending the record-keeping regulations to protect sensitive worker information from potential disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. OSHA has preliminarily determined that the risk of disclosure of this information, the costs to OSHA of collecting and using the information, and the reporting burden on employers are unjustified given the uncertain benefits of collecting the information, according to the notice.

“OSHA believes that this proposal maintains safety and health protections for workers while also reducing the burden to employers of complying with the current rule,” the notice states.

The preliminary draft of the notice was published for informational purposes only until the official version is published in the Federal Register.

On Wednesday three organizations filed a suit against the U.S. Department of Labor, the Secretary of Labor and OSHA over the proposed changes.

In the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Washington-based Public Citizen Health Research Group, the Washington-based American Public Health Association, and the Atlanta-based Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, all public advocacy groups, are challenging OSHA’s suspension of parts of the tracking rule. The groups say the data collected by OSHA serve to improve workplace safety practices, according to the complaint, which seeks to halt the changes.

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