New OSHA regulations going into effect August 10 are sending a ripple of controversy throughout manufacturing, construction, and other hazardous industries.
The new law requires that companies that operate in hazardous industries with a staff of fewer than 250 file OSHA form 300A in the event of work-related injury or illness. Those with more than 250 employees will file 300, 300A, and 301.
The new regulations require companies to file electronically with OSHA. Previously, these forms and reports were kept on hand by an employer, and only received by OSHA in the event of an investigation. Under the new law, not only will OSHA receive all reports, the reports will also be available to the public, online.
The transparency of the inner workings of these companies could positively impact the industries by highlighting areas of concern, leading to better work environments for employees. On the flip side, the public accessibility of the information could open the doors to unfavorable press and lawsuits.
Workers in hazardous industries are divided by the new rules. Those in favor of the changes suggest that OSHA’s accessibility to those records can help the administration better target their investigations. Believing that regularly occurring accidents may be symbolic of poor management or other company shortcomings, there is significant hope that the rules will inevitably lead to safer, well-operated workplaces.
Those who oppose the changes feel that the new rules “shame” those in hazardous industries. While few would argue against a push for greater transparency, it is the method and lack of employee and company privacy, that has many concerned. Others raise concerns about the ability to revise reports, after investigation. If the initial information is shared to the public, but is later revised for accuracy, it is easy for the information to be misinterpreted by anyone who comes across the report.
Although the law goes into effect this summer, the record keeping will change over beginning January 1, 2017. The mandatory submission of reports will begin July 2017. The records will be available online shortly after OSHA receives them.
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