The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will propose a major change to the way workplaces and employers would report any accidents or health-related mishaps on their premises. The potential rule would force companies with at least 250 employees to file an electronic report to OSHA every quarter (there are roughly 38,000 employers that fulfill this condition), while companies with at least 20 employees (and other employers who work in high risk industries) would have to file the same electronic report once per year.
Here’s where the controversy of the “major” change comes in: these reports would be posted online and available to the public. People could then compare and contrast the companies and their safety records.
Now, obviously businesses are up in arms about the potentially public nature of these reports. They say that making these safety reports available to everyone (and, thus, exposing the workplace accidents, injuries and illnesses that are attributed to the companies) that companies will get unfairly labeled as dangerous. Basically the numbers could “lie,” goes the argument. The companies also argue that the numbers could be used nefariously (though how that would happen is not made clear).
Ultimately though, this is a proposal that aims to do two things:
- Give people an idea as to which workplaces are safe and which aren’t, a resource that is not readily available to them right now.
- Help OSHA out, since they don’t have the manpower to monitor every workplace in the U.S. (there are 2,400 inspectors for OSHA, and it would take them 100 years to visit every workplace once).
OSHA can support injured workers when they fall victim to a workplace accident or workplace negligence; they also inspect workplaces and hold employers accountable when their premises fails to live up to the safety standards they are supposed to adhere to.
Source: Associated Press, “OSHA plans to make workplace safety reports public,” Sam Hananel, Nov. 7, 2013