This week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) decided that records of all work-related accidents and injuries will be made public. The release of information required by OSHA’s new rule could help make workplaces safer by allowing the public to hold companies accountable for safety violations.
OSHA already requires most companies to keep an accurate record of all work-related illnesses, accidents and injuries that affect their employees. These records are then supposed to be used by the companies to help improve safety, but they are not automatically sent to OSHA or any other regulatory agency. Now, OSHA is implementing a new rule, which it says will “modernize injury data collection” and keep everyone more informed about industry safety. Under this new rule, companies will send all accident records to OSHA, which will then make that data available to the public on their website.
How Will OSHA’s New Rule Requiring Public Disclosure Improve Workplace Safety?
The goal of this new reporting rule is one part education and one part accountability. With workplace accident data readily available online, job seekers will be able to see how safe a company’s working conditions are before applying. Investors and customers can do the same thing. OSHA believes that unsafe business practices will be discouraged naturally, since most people will avoid the companies that have high accident rates.
However, that’s not all that making this information public will achieve. OSHA also plans to analyze the data in order to identify risk areas, trends and blatant safety violations, hopefully allowing them to address unsafe practices more quickly. On an even wider scale, OSHA will be able to compile data about what causes the most workplace injuries and may even be able to pinpoint new hazards before they become a widespread problem. OSHA will also be able to see what accident prevention techniques are the most effective.
In order to ensure that safety records are correct and complete, OSHA has also implemented whistleblower protections to shield employees from backlash if they report a problem. The goal of this protection is to encourage workers to come forward and report violations to OSHA without fear of losing their jobs or other retaliation from employers. The combination of accurate reporting and readily available information will hopefully encourage more workplace safety for everyone.
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