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NAW News

OSHA Reform

- April 2015

Legislation opposed by NAW and the employer community generally 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 again in the 113th Congress. Given that Republicans will control both houses in the new 114th Congress, the legislative landscape in this area appears barren.

On the regulatory front, prospects for the advancement of an “I2P2” (Injury and Illness Prevention Program) rule during the Obama Administration were substantially downgraded in late May, 2014, when OSHA moved I2P2 to the “long term actions” list on its 2014 regulatory agenda. Long expected to become the signature OSHA rulemaking of the Obama Labor Department, I2P2 would have required employers to find and fix hazards in their workplaces, thus covering workplace hazards generally, including those not covered by a specific OSHA regulation.

On September 11th, OSHA announced updated occupational injury and illness reporting and recordkeeping requirements that went into effect on January 1, 2015. The newly-revised final rule requires the reporting within 24 hours of all work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations and loss of an eye. NAW issued a Regulatory Advisory on September 15th.

Finally, OSHA’s November 8, 2013 publication of a proposed rule (NPRM) to require employers which must record work-related injuries to electronically submit their records directly to OSHA (78 FR 67254, 2013; Docket Number OSHA – 2013 – 0023), was augmented on August 14, 2014 with a Supplemental NPRM (79 FR 47605, 2014) adding provisions that will make it a violation for an employer to discourage employees from reporting illnesses and injuries. NAW joined with our allies in the Coalition for Workplace Safety (CWS) in comments submitted on March 10, 2014 and October 14, 2014 in response to the original proposal and supplemental NPRM respectively. The CWS/NAW comments called on OSHA to withdraw the original 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

In a similar vein, the October 14th comments urged withdrawal of the supplemental proposal due to the “absence of any supporting data or evidence, a lack of statutory authority, and a failure of regulatory procedure.”