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OSHA Wants To Post All Workplace Injury Reports Online 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the please-don't-make-us-document-the-lemur-attacks dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "AP reports that federal safety regulators are proposing major changes in workplace reporting rules that would require large companies to file injury and illness reports electronically so they can be posted online and made available to the public. 'Public posting of workplace illness and injury information will nudge employers to better identify and eliminate hazards,' says OSHA head David Michaels. OSHA says the change is in line with President Barack Obama's initiative to increase public access to government data. The plan would require companies with more than 250 employees to submit the data electronically on a quarterly basis. That would cover about 38,000 American companies, says Michaels. Under current rules, employers are required to post annual summaries of injury and illness reports in a common area where they can be seen by employees. While the OSHA web site contains raw numbers about incidents at certain workplaces, it doesn't describe what the injury was or how it occurred. OSHA will hold a public meeting on the proposed rule on January 9 in Washington and is accepting public comments for 90 days, until February 6, 2014. Not everyone is enamored of the change. 'Just because you have an injury, it does not mean there was employer fault,' says Marc Freedman, executive director of labor law policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 'Reporting the injury records does not tell the full story of the company.' Some company safety professionals and researchers say they are concerned that the new proposal might unintentionally create an under-reporting problem. Companies may feel pressure to report lower injury numbers if they know they will be made public."
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OSHA Wants To Post All Workplace Injury Reports Online

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    "...require companies with more than 250 employees to submit..." Solution: Fire all but 250 of your employees.

    If necessary, outsource any remaining work to 1 or more subcontractors, each of which has 250 employees or less.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by ackthpt (218170)

      "...require companies with more than 250 employees to submit..." Solution: Fire all but 250 of your employees.

      If necessary, outsource any remaining work to 1 or more subcontractors, each of which has 250 employees or less.

      Mitt! What you been up to since 2012?

      • Funny joke but the reality is that if you provide incentives for companies to reduce their full time workforce (like Obamacare) don't be surprised when they do that.

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          The reality is that only a tiny percentage of companies are right at 250 employees. Most companies are either way smaller or way larger. A 1,000 employee company is not going to lay off 75% of its workforce just to avoid a law. At best, this creates a small disincentive for companies that are approaching that line to cross it, or a small incentive for companies that are only slightly above the line to reduce their headcount by a few people.

          That said, in practice, most companies hire exactly as many peop

    • "...require companies with more than 250 employees to submit..." Solution: Fire all but 250 of your employees.

      If necessary, outsource any remaining work to 1 or more subcontractors, each of which has 250 employees or less.

      Or we could just end the gamemanship which allows companies to claim employees aren't employees if they walk and quack like a duck, just because they're farmed out only for the purpose of avoiding having to call them employees.

    • If necessary, outsource any remaining work to 1 or more subcontractors, each of which has 250 employees or less.

      That potential loophole is ridiculously easy to seal with some careful phrasing of the rules. You simply have to look at beneficial ownership [thefreedictionary.com] and make companies have to report injuries from subcontractors. No, the proper way to deal with this is through getting the rules written in a sane manner in the first place. If information like this is made public then it needs to be done so in a manner that explains the context.

      The notion of reporting workplace injuries is a good idea (in principle anyway) but th

      • If necessary, outsource any remaining work to 1 or more subcontractors, each of which has 250 employees or less.

        That potential loophole is ridiculously easy to seal with some careful phrasing of the rules. You simply have to look at beneficial ownership [thefreedictionary.com] and make companies have to report injuries from subcontractors. No, the proper way to deal with this is through getting the rules written in a sane manner in the first place. If information like this is made public then it needs to be done so in a manner that explains the context.

        The notion of reporting workplace injuries is a good idea (in principle anyway) but there are a LOT of nuances to the issue. Many workplace injuries have nothing to do with the actual performance of work at the job. Sometimes people just trip and hurt themselves in ways they could just as easily have done in their living room and which the company could not possible prevent. Should that be something the company is held responsible for? There are a LOT of people who falsely claim to have received workplace injuries in order to get workers compensation payments. Should the company be penalized by public reporting of these false claims? What about when it is unclear whether the "injury" was real or not?

        It's a complicated issue and a simply reporting requirement is both a significant administrative burden and a potential source of misleading information about the safety of a given workplace.

        As a member of a Safety Committee for over ten years I have a bit of insight. Pushing job safety is important. I worked in the electrical power industry. A mistake there can easily cost a life. However, when employers start putting sanctions and letters in personnel files it has a chilling effect. Accidents are no longer are reported. Near misses will never be reported. If management truly care about safety then they will want true data and push for safer working conditions, not punishment. Safety is an at

  • by Mr D from 63 (3395377) on Friday November 08, 2013 @07:17PM (#45373435)
    "OSHA says the change is in line with President Barack Obama's initiative to increase public access to government data."

    Or is it company data that is collected by the government?
    • by ackthpt (218170)

      "OSHA says the change is in line with President Barack Obama's initiative to increase public access to government data."

      Or is it company data that is collected by the government?

      It's in line with government access to public data.

      I'll get me coat.

      • by cffrost (885375)

        I'll get me coat.

        No need, ol' chap; This is Slashdot, not El Reg. Stick around for another pint.

        • I have to wonder why government thinks public shaming will make any difference.

          When it's happened to Obama, they've just pretended it didn't exist and tried to wish it away. So why should we do any different when it comes to companies?
  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday November 08, 2013 @07:19PM (#45373455)

    Not everyone is enamored of the change. 'Just because you have an injury, it does not mean there was employer fault,' says Marc Freedman, executive director of labor law policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    Rather, what employer is going to hire someone who has made a claim in the past?

    • by sribe (304414) on Friday November 08, 2013 @07:24PM (#45373497)

      Rather, what employer is going to hire someone who has made a claim in the past?

      The information will most certainly not identify individuals.

      • You do realize that names don't have to be given to still make it very easy to identify a person who is named in such a report, right?

        Let's say you work at a software development company. Let's say it's a larger company, and relatively well known. At the very least, all of your family knows you work there, your friends know, and you have it on your LinkedIn or Facebook pages.

        Now, being a software company, severe injuries are likely quite rare. It may be typical, if not expected, for years to go by between s

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          It isn't even as convoluted as that. If a person has a claim against any company that required them to miss work, there will be a gap in their employment record. All anyone would have to do is look at the application, then search the previous company for any gaps in employment. What's this, some employees had a claim that costs 200k about the time this guy was unemployed? oh, and it is a back injury, well, I guess we will put this in the if there is no one else pile.

          It doesn't even need to identify them. Ju

          • by Zynder (2773551)
            Well you evidently haven't had to file a workman's comp claim at a real employer (ie not fast food or walmart). You are not "fired" when on workman's comp or even if you have to take FMLA or use a long term disability plan (cause your injury wasn't at work). You are still an employee so no gaps will show until you accept Gov disability or your long term disability plan runs out or you guys make a settlement. I know this first hand- the guy sitting next to me is currently suing our employer for laying him
            • by sumdumass (711423)

              until you accept Gov disability or your long term disability plan runs out or you guys make a settlement.

              I find it strange that you act as if I know nothing but then go ahead and run to prove what I mentioned. Obviously if you cut your finger and take a day off, you are not going to have any gaps in employment. But when "Simply put, your genitals have been turned to jelly. The doctors do what they can to save your manhood, but it's a lost cause." as the GP mentioned happens, there will likely be a gap in em

              • by Zynder (2773551)

                required them to miss work, there will be a gap in their employment record

                Well I found it strange that you asserted knowledge that I could clearly invalidate. I don't see where I proved any of your point but perspective is perspective. I'll clarify.

                So you were laid off after the claim was over evidently (that "after" you stated isn't clear enough). My statement was that you aren't laid off while the case is open ("on workman's comp") or on FMLA or long term insurance plans. Once the claim is closed, a

                • by sumdumass (711423)

                  Well I found it strange that you asserted knowledge that I could clearly invalidate. I don't see where I proved any of your point but perspective is perspective. I'll clarify.

                  IS reading comprehension not a strong trait of yours? I specifically quoted what you said that validated my claim. "until you accept Gov disability or your long term disability plan runs out or you guys make a settlement." You said it right?

                  So you were laid off after the claim was over evidently (that "after" you stated isn't clear en

                  • by Zynder (2773551)
                    I meant it when I said I wasn't being an ass...but since you are just sumdumass, I'll break it down dumbass-style.

                    I can read and write quite well, thanks. I proved nothing you said at all in the least-- I even clarified the statement for you. I made a list of all four of those scenarios and WHY YOUR POINT DOESN'T FUCKING MATTER but YOU are too stupid to see it. You are freaking out about what-ifs and all the usual "er mah gerd shit is changing and I don't like it!" If you are healed then you still ha
                    • by sumdumass (711423)

                      Lol.. you made a point about what you think but aren't actually correct so your point is useless. As I already said, you were wrong. You being wrong and me pointing it out does not need to result in you blowing a gasket. Of course I am dealing with what ifs because they are the exception to your rule that makes you incorrect.

                      BTW, you are still wrong and it seems you failed to comprehend what I said again, I have never been on Gov disability just off on WC due to injury and when I had my two surgeries.

                      Now he

        • "Now everyone knows you basically have no penis and scrotum any longer. That's embarrassing!"

          Wow. That's a pretty graphic example. But you make it sound very believable. Almost as though you were actually there!

      • by lgw (121541)

        Sure it won't. Just like all H1-B visa salaries get posted online, but "the information will most certainly not identify individuals". And yet, with a bit of work you can reliably determine how much each of your H1-B co-workers make, because enough information is published to data-mine.

        Except in this case background-check companies will likely sell this as a service.

        • by sribe (304414)

          Except in this case background-check companies will likely sell this as a service.

          HIPAA, medical privacy, case closed.

      • I've done reporting work at a state health department. In general, information was suppressed if it was to small of a population (incident population or rate population). In general, a population under 50 is considered too small to report publicly without exposing protected health information (PHI). With accident records, you population is employees. Suppressing site information may help, but it also reduces the effectiveness. It's also likely that most small businesses would never have a large enough popul

  • by nimbius (983462) on Friday November 08, 2013 @07:23PM (#45373483) Homepage
    start reporting your employees as independent contractors. Not only do you get to injur and maim people without any repercussions, but you can hire illegal immigrants and not face any of the state-by-state penalties for doing so. Wal-Mart does this routinely with its cleaning crews.

    the fact is OSHA has been a toothless entity for a decade or so anyhow. states like texas and georgia barely have one, and when it enforces violations they typically become 'corrective action taken' events instead of cash out of pocket citations.
    • by sumdumass (711423) on Friday November 08, 2013 @08:08PM (#45373803) Journal

      Corrective actions taken is entirely proper. OSHA and MSHA do not exist to penalize companies but to implement and enforce a standard that makes working there relatively safe. If a boss orders you to do something that is against OSHA policies, you have the ability to personally sue them. OSHA has the ability to ensure they do not do it again which can mean corrective action like retraining employees and supervisors or using different safety equipment.

      Cash settlements and fines should be reserved for repetitive violations. And remember, regardless of OSHA fines or action, the employee retains a right to recover damages independent of OSHA. In fact, OSHA makes it easier because their regulation is the de facto industry minimum.

      • by fluffy99 (870997)

        Corrective actions taken is entirely proper. OSHA and MSHA do not exist to penalize companies but to implement and enforce a standard that makes working there relatively safe. If a boss orders you to do something that is against OSHA policies, you have the ability to personally sue them. OSHA has the ability to ensure they do not do it again which can mean corrective action like retraining employees and supervisors or using different safety equipment.

        Cash settlements and fines should be reserved for repetitive violations. And remember, regardless of OSHA fines or action, the employee retains a right to recover damages independent of OSHA. In fact, OSHA makes it easier because their regulation is the de facto industry minimum.

        Much like the highway patrol is there to improve safety? No, OSHA and MSHA lately have been more interested in their own budget instead of real safety. Look at their VPP program where companies can now pay for the privilege of getting inspected less frequently. The VPP inspection is a joke, consisting of nothing more than a single site inspection and no recent reported injuries (not that companies voluntarily report any way).

    • by rueger (210566) on Friday November 08, 2013 @08:50PM (#45374105) Homepage
      Much the same in Canada, where agencies which used to protect workers have been de-fanged and de-toothed pretty effectively. For the most part anything resembling Worker's Compensation is primarily a tool that prevents workers from suing employers, not something that protects them.

      And even then, there is rampant "You're not an employee, you're contractor, and don't even think about employment insurance or contributions to your pension."

      The end result is stuff like guys working three stories up, on the roof, in the rain, with no safety gear of any sort.

      Workers won't file a complaint because they would be fired immediately. Or more to the point, their "not an employee" contract would be ended immediately. The company knows full well that without a complaint there is zero chance that any inspector will visit the job site. Especially after years of cut-backs which eliminated half of the people who used to do that job.

      The bottom line with safety has to be frequent inspections, big fat fines, and a rapid escalation of fines for repeated violations.
    • by nbauman (624611)

      Employees get worker's compensation, which is limited to lost wages, and much less than they would get from a personal injury case.

      Contractors can sue for personal injury, which is a lot more.

      For example, if you as a programmer lost your penis and scrotum changing a light bulb, then under worker's comp you would be entitled to any lost wages for the time you were in the hospital or recuperating, but that's all. Losing your penis and scrotum wouldn't affect your future earning capacity as a programmer.

      As a c

    • start reporting your employees as independent contractors.

      Doesn't get you a thing. Businesses are responsible for people working on their behalf whether or not they receive a W2.

      the fact is OSHA has been a toothless entity for a decade or so anyhow.

      Toothless? Hardly. They might be underfunded but they can easily shut a business down on a whim. They can even lie about "findings" and fine you as a result. If OSHA visits your facility you are almost certain to be fined for something. It's virtually impossible to be perfectly compliant with every rule. In my state they even send out offers to "inspect" your place to make suggestio

  • Every restaurant should have to post their inspection results on their website and in their window. They should be color-coded. That would be of immensely more public value than this

    • by BKX (5066)

      We have this in Michigan. You can see how many critical and non-critical violations each restaurant in the state had at the last semi-annual health inspection. It sucks for the restaurants though, since silly things are "critical", like having a dumpster lid (outdoors) open from the wind, or a completely shaved-bald man not wearing a hairnet, or cutting a milk dispenser bag nipple at a 30deg angle instead of 45deg, or using a steamtable rated for reheating food instead of a double boiler or the oven. The la

    • by sjames (1099)

      Most are required to post the inspection prominently now, just not on the website.

    • by Solandri (704621)
      Have you actually had to work with a health inspector? When I worked at a hotel/restaurant, we did. Our health inspector seemed to be on a power trip. She would ask us to do all sorts of strange things, like put sneeze guards on the ends of our self-serving tables (which are designed to abut end-to-end so you can't serve yourself food from the ends). When we couldn't find any for sale through our regular channels, we called the manufacturer about it. They told us they sell these serving tables througho
  • Is this going to include medical error injuries? That's what really needs to be publicly reported.

    • by Virtucon (127420)

      you mean Malpractice? That's down the hall over at the AMA with supposed oversight by HHS but they're a little busy right now fixing a website.

      • by greenbird (859670)

        you mean Malpractice

        Not necessarily but that too needs to be publicly available. Not all medical mistakes are elevated to the level of malpractice. That's one of the biggest problems with the system. You remove the wrong body part or leave something you weren't supposed to inside someone, yeah, that's probably malpractice. But a misdiagnosis or even given someone the wrong medication doesn't always rise to that level. I would argue they are more often systematic or process problems. The fact that in general they are almost alw

  • The result will be more robots or shipping jobs overseas.

  • Just hop over to /b/ on 4chan.

  • It seems strange that this kind of data isn't already publicly available. Putting it on a website is certainly more efficient... wait, HealthCare.gov.. well, maybe it'll be more efficient, it's a different department. But what bothers me is the illness portion of it, are they talking flu or incidents of cancer? If it's the latter then they need to first publish the information about the TSA employees in Boston and possible radiation exposure due to nudeo scanners. [time.com] Of course the TSA says "uh huh" and say [tsa.gov]

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