TIA Seeks Comments on OSHA Proposal to make Injury and Illness Data Available to the Public
Bowie, MD – The Tire Industry Association’s (TIA’s), is seeking comments from all segments of the tire industry regarding a proposal from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses” in part by making the data available to the public. During a recent informal public meeting and roundtable with the Agency in Washington D.C., organizations representing labor unions and industry groups spoke on the proposed rulemaking. TIA attended both of the meetings but did not make any public statements.
“If you read the summary of the proposed rule, it appears that OSHA is only interested in improving the collection of injury and illness data by establishing electronic reporting requirements,” remarked Roy Littlefield, TIA Executive Vice President. “However, once you get deeper into the proposal, it becomes evident that the Agency believes that public access to the data will somehow improve workplace safety. Now that we have a complete understanding of the proposed rule, we are asking everyone to either submit comments on their own or submit comments to TIA so they can be included with the Association’s.”
Currently, all employers with 11 or more employees must complete an Incident Report (Form 301) for each reportable injury and illness under 29 CFR 1904 and keep a record of all injuries in the Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (Form 300). Each year, every employer must use the information on those forms to complete the Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (Form 300A). These records are used by OSHA officials during inspections and the OSHA Data Initiative (ODI). The ODI is designed so that every employer with 20 or more employees in designated industries receives a survey once every three years, which is basically the information on Form 300A.
OSHA is proposing a change to the injury and illness reporting requirements starting with all employers covered by 29 CFR 1904 that have 250 or more employees. These large companies will have to electronically submit information for each establishment on a quarterly basis. Based on the language in the proposed rulemaking, OSHA is considering collecting the establishment-specific data from all three forms and making most of it public. While OSHA officials said they would “scrub out” the personal information on the Forms to protect the employee’s privacy, the employers would not be entitled to the same rights.
The next major change to injury and illness reporting would be requiring all businesses with 20 or more employees in designated industries (which includes tire dealers and retreaders) to electronically submit the annual summary Form 300A. This would replace the current ODI since all of the covered establishments with 20 or more employees would be submitting injury and illness data every year instead of approximately every three years. And like the companies with more than 250 employees, all of the information could be made available to the public.
Employers with between 11 and 19 employees would still be required to use all three forms for identifying, tracking and summarizing workplace injuries and illnesses, but the information would not be submitted to OSHA unless the employer receives notification directly from the Agency.
When describing the benefits of the changes, the proposed rulemaking stated, “…expanded OSHA access to this information…will allow OSHA to use its resources more effectively by enabling the Agency to identify workplaces where workers are at greater risk…and to target its compliance assistance and enforcement efforts accordingly.” By allowing public access to the data, the Agency described benefits of encouraging workplaces to “support their reputations as good places to work and/or do business with” and “allow members to the public to make more informed decisions about current and potential companies with which to do business.”
“We do not foresee any benefits of making injury and illness data accessible to the public and cannot understand why the Bureau of Labor Statistics is not allowed to release injury and illness data for privacy reasons yet those rules do not apply in this instance,” remarked Kevin Rohlwing, TIA Senior Vice President of Training. “OSHA’s mission is to set and enforce standards in addition to providing training, outreach, education and assistance, so the public access component of this proposal is not consistent with the goals of the Agency. Making injury and illness data public will only contribute to under-reporting and create additional incentives for not reporting incidents at all.”
OSHA estimates the total economic costs at $11.9 million per year, with costs of $183 per year for establishments with 250 or more employees and $9 per year for those with 20 or more employees. TIA would like to submit comments that include actual estimates from the tire industry so we can demonstrate how much OSHA underestimates the time and effort that will be associated with collecting and submitting data from companies with multiple locations. This will definitely have an impact on small businesses because there are a lot of tire dealers with multiple locations that will probably fall under the 250-employee threshold. Someone in each store would have to be responsible for keeping all the forms so the summary data can be reported for each establishment annually. TIA believes the $9 per year estimate for that process is far much lower that the actual costs in the tire industry.
For large companies with 250 or more employees, this proposal will significantly increase the amount of time needed to stay compliant. It’s possible that every incident Form 300 and the Form 301 log from each establishment would have to be entered quarterly in addition to the annual summary Form 300A at the end of the year. Again, TIA believes that OSHA’s estimate of $183 per year is far less than the actual cost for a large chain of dealers with locations in multiple states. This would also impact a lot of our supplier and manufacturing members, so comments regarding the economic impact of reporting all of the information quarterly are necessary to prevent the Agency from creating additional costs that are unlikely to have a positive impact on workplace safety.
Since TIA believes the cost of gathering and entering the data is far more than estimated for all businesses with more than 20 employees, The Association is also seeking actual cost estimates from all affected businesses. Agency officials are accustomed to looking at data, which means TIA is totally dependent on the industry providing realistic cost estimates for the type of tracking, recordkeeping and entering of all injury and illness data. Companies submitting comments on their own should provide a detailed cost analysis. Companies willing to provide TIA with a detailed or even general cost estimate should email it along with other comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grassroots lobbying has been incredibly successful in the past for the tire industry, so the more companies that submit their own comments the better. TIA has written a summary of the proposal that includes key points regarding the changes and an Appendix of 38 questions (often in multiple parts) where OSHA is welcoming comments from the public regarding the proposed electronic submission requirements. TIA will be submitting answers in the Association’s formal comments to each of the questions on behalf of the tire industry. The Association is asking all affected businesses in the tire industry to either submit their own comments or provide TIA with a quote regarding the impact of this proposal. Quotes can be emailed to email@example.com.
The deadline for formal comments to OSHA is March 8, 2014. Therefore, TIA asks companies to submit quotes or comments to the Association by February 28, 2014.
For a copy of the official proposal as it appeared in the Federal Register, companies can use the following URL: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-11-08/pdf/2013-26711.pdf.
For a copy of the extension of the comment period and the information regarding the submission of comments, companies can use the following URL: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-01-07/pdf/2014-00010.pdf.
For a copy of the TIA summary of the proposal and initial concerns, companies should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.