WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) extended to Oct. 14 the comment period on a proposed rule aimed at improving tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses.

Under the proposed rule, injury and illness information would be reported electronically. Businesses with 250 or more employees would be required to submit quarterly reports while businesses with 20 or more employees would have to submit annual reports. OSHA also is considering a requirement for additional information about specific injuries and illnesses. Finally, providing public access to injury and illness information is also under consideration.

"OSHA wants to make sure that employers, employees and the public have access to the most accurate data about injuries and illnesses in their workplaces so that they can take the most appropriate steps to protect worker safety and health," said Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.

However, during a public meeting on the proposed rule many participants spoke out against the requirements, saying public access to the reports could motivate employers to under-report injuries and illnesses. Also, participants raised concerns that the proposed rule could increase the number of employers that adopt practices that discourage employees from reporting injuries or illnesses.

OSHA currently is seeking comment on several amendments to the proposed rule that would:

• require that employers inform their employees of their right to report injuries and illnesses;
• more clearly communicate the requirement that any injury and illness reporting requirements established by the employer be reasonable and not unduly burdensome; and
• provide OSHA an additional remedy to prohibit employers from taking adverse action against employees for reporting injuries and illnesses.