News Release USDL: 97-50
Monday, February 10, 1997
Contact: Susan Hall Fleming,(202) 219-8151
New OSHA Rule Clarifies Injury/Illness Data Collection
About 80,000 employers asked to mail information on
workplace injuries and illnesses at their worksites during 1996
to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will
have clearer guidelines under a new rule announced today.
Most U.S. employers must keep records of occupational
injuries and illnesses that their workers experience. Today's
rule clarifies OSHA's authority to request employers to mail or
electronically transmit that data directly to the agency along
with the number of workers employed and the number of hours those
employees worked. With this data, OSHA can better direct its
programs to protect workers.
"In the past OSHA has relied on generic industry-based data
to determine where to focus its enforcement program and outreach
efforts," said Gregory R. Watchman, acting assistant secretary of
labor for occupational safety and health. "However, the General
Accounting Office and others have urged OSHA to obtain and use
data identifying the actual injury and illness experience of each
worksite to better leverage OSHA's limited resources."
Site-specific data is a key ingredient in OSHA's Cooperative
Compliance Programs and special initiatives for nursing homes and
facilities with many repetitive stress injuries. In February
1996, OSHA proposed to simplify and update its recordkeeping
procedures, including specific provisions covering data surveys.
At the same time, the agency sent 80,000 employers a survey
asking them to submit 1995 injury and illness data directly to
the agency. Ninety-two per cent of those surveyed responded.
OSHA compliance officers routinely check injury/illness data
during inspections. However, the survey permits data collection
from a much larger universe of firms than OSHA can reach through
inspections alone. Today's rule clarifies OSHA's authority to
collect the data via mail or electronic means.
OSHA shortly will send the survey form to collect 1996
injury and illness information from approximately 65,000
employers with 60 or more employees. Since employers should
already have the data compiled, the survey takes an average of 30
minutes to complete.
The new rules covering injury and illness surveys are
expected to appear in the Federal Register on Feb. 11, 1997.
OSHA plans to promulgate other provisions of its updated
recordkeeping requirements later this year.