OSHA Rolls Back Obama-Era Injury Reporting Rules

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act[1], employers must provide their workers with worksites free of recognized safety hazards.  To help prevent work-related injuries and illnesses, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has required employers to keep track of their workers’ injuries and illnesses by recording them in what often is referred to as an “OSHA log.”  In 2016, OSHA issued a rule requiring employers to submit some of the recorded information to OSHA electronically for posting on the OSHA website.[2]  The requirement applied to establishments with 250 or more employees that are required to keep OSHA injury and illness records and to establishments with 20-249 employees in certain industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses (including construction, utility, manufacturing, and transit/ground transportation). 

In response to employer complaints, the Trump Administration first suspended and later eliminated the requirement that employers report this information to OSHA.[3]  Employers must still maintain this information in their own files.  Three public health organizations have filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administrator’s rollback of the reporting requirements.  They contend that by failing to provide a reasoned and legally-justified explanation for its about-face, OSHA has acted arbitrarily.  A group of six states has filed a similar suit.

[1]           29 U.S.C. §§ 651 et seq.

[2]           Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, 81 Fed. Reg. 29,626 (May 12, 2016).

[3]           Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, 84 Fed. Reg. 380 (Jan. 25, 2019).