OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
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.
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