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NAW News

OSHA Reform

- April 2014

Legislation to reform the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), favoring confrontation over cooperation as the preferred approach to workplace health and safety regulation (“Protecting America’s Workers Act” or “PAWA”), stalled in both the 111th and 112th Congresses and has gone and will go nowhere in the 113th. While the legislative landscape in this area appears barren, we believe that OSHA will continue to be actively engaged in new regulatory initiatives for the reminder of the Obama Administration. A proposal aimed at gathering data related to workplace repetitive motion injuries (a/k/a “musculoskeletal disorders” or “MSDs”) remains in play based on the Agency’s belief that “having aggregate data on MSDs may help employers and workers track these injuries at individual workplaces … improve the utility, accuracy, and completeness of the national occupational injury and illness statistics, and may assist the Agency in its day-to-day activities and overall safety and health policy making.” A proposed rule adding a column to the OSHA 300 Log that employers must check if a case is an MSD, was withdrawn in January 2011. Were significant regulatory activity to resume on this issue currently on OSHA’s agenda for long-term action, concern in the employer community about prospects for a more extensive ergonomics rulemaking would be re-ignited.

OSHA is continuing to develop “a rule requiring employers to implement an Injury and Illness Prevention Program,” and publication of a long-delayed proposed “I2P2” rule is on the Agency’s regulatory agenda for the fall of 2014. The proposal will involve “planning, implementing, evaluating, and improving processes and activities that protect employee safety and health,” and will “build on OSHA’s voluntary Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines (54 FR 3904 – 3916, 1989) … as well as lessons learned from successful approaches and best practices under OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program and similar industry and international initiatives ….”

Finally, OSHA on November 8, 2013 published a proposed rule to require employers which must record work-related injuries to electronically submit their records directly to OSHA. (78 FR 67254 – 67283, 2013; Docket Number OSHA – 2013 – 0023) OSHA will then publish those records online in a searchable database. There exists widespread concern in the employer community that this information will be used by unions and other activists wishing to characterize employers as having bad safety records. NAW joined with our allies in the Coalition for Workplace Safety (CWS) in comments submitted on March 10th in response to this proposal. The CWS/NAW comments called on OSHA to withdraw the proposal for the following reasons:

  • OSHA lacks the statutory authority to publicly disseminate the information the Agency plans to publish under this regulation

  • Confidential, sensitive and proprietary business information will be publicly revealed

  • It will provide material for those who wish to mischaracterize employers

  • Fewer injuries will be reported

  • Longstanding policies about recordkeeping are upended without justification or explanation

(For more information and these and similar issues see the separate staff report “Regulatory Agenda.”)