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Lawyer Blog: Baltimore, MD

New Public Database Helpful for Workers

Working on a laptop

In an effort to bring greater transparency to the reporting of workplace injury and illness, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a “final rule” on May 11, 2016, that creates a publically-viewable database. This final rule revises OSHA’s regulations known as the Recording and Reporting of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.

The new database will likely benefit workers in certain industries, who will be able to look up whether one employer has a higher numbers of injuries than another. The names of companies and a listing of injuries and illnesses, along with their numbers of occurrences, will appear in the database. (No personally-identifying worker information will be listed.)

Under the present system, employers keep logs of all on-the-job illnesses and injuries. The logs can be viewed by employees and by OSHA inspectors, but no others outside the company can usually see the information. However, the new rule will require certain changes, especially for industries considered “high hazard” (construction, manufacturing, freight trucking, waste collection, hospitals, nursing homes, and grocery stores). Among the changes is the obligation that companies with over 249 workers will have to send detailed injury and illness information electronically to OSHA.

How can this new database help you? It’s likely to make it easier to spot problems with dangers in the workplace. For example, if you are considering changing employers, and you want to know what the occupational risks are at another place of business, you will be able to look up the reported incidences of such things as back injuries, broken bones, burns, and so forth. OSHA believes that the public database will ultimately help make the workplace safer.

Reporting will also become more accurate because OSHA’s definition of “employee” now includes part-time, temporary, and seasonal workers. Basically, anyone who works at the company who then suffers illness or injury will become a statistic in the database.

The final rule has a number of milestones that encompass several changes:

  • Partial compliance by companies will be required by submitting the appropriate OSHA form summaries electronically by July 1, 2017.
  • Companies with 250 or more employees must be completely compliant with the new regulations by July 1, 2018.
  • By March 1, 2019, all companies with at least 20 employees will need to be in full compliance with the new rule.

The president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, believes that OSHA is doing the right thing. “The new OSHA injury reporting rules will bring workplace injury and illness reporting into the 21st century and provide important new protections to workers who report injuries. Until now, most workplace injury records have only been available at the workplace, making it impossible to know which employers have bad or good injury records.”

One additional aspect of the final rule involves substantial improvements in OSHA’s abilities to pursue retaliation and discrimination violations. OSHA will be able to go after alleged perpetrators even if no employee has filed a formal complaint. These new protections go into effect on August 10, 2016.

Injured on the Job? Call A Local Baltimore Work Injury Lawyer.

While state and federal agencies such as OSHA have rules and regulations intended to keep workers free from harm, sometimes workplace situations, such as exposure to dangerous substances, machinery, or even sheer negligence, can place workers at risk. Steve Heisler has devoted 25 years to helping injured people and their families pursue compensation from those who caused them to be injured. Steve approaches each case with compassion and thorough investigation, leaving no stone unturned in his goal of obtaining justice for persons harmed by the actions or inactions of negligent employers, manufacturers and sub-contractors. If you or your loved one has been injured or killed in a work-related accident anywhere in Maryland, call the Maryland workplace injury lawyer of the Law Offices of Steven H. Heisler today at (410) 625-4878, or use our online contact form. The initial consultation is always free.