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New OSHA regs for injury reporting for most businesses in place

Often, when business complains about regulation, they do so by claiming the "free market" will better regulate an industry or practice than the government. For instance, they may claim that health and safety issues will be resolved better because if an employer is unsafe, employees will quit or refuse to work there. 

This is claim is based on many questionable assumptions, one of which is that employees have all the information they need to make such a decision. Last month, OSHA issued regulations that become effective in August of 2016 that will finally provide some of that information.

Employers will have to record and report the injuries and illnesses of their employees. The rule, importantly, also encourages employee report of these matters. This is an effort to prevent employers from creating sham "safety programs" that potentially punish employees who report accidents or unsafe conditions.

The information required by the new regulation would allow workers to see what the safety records of a prospective employer look like. It will also allow anyone, from investors to consumers better insight into the management and operation of the business.

To improve the timeliness of reporting, most employers with 250 or more employees will have to report electronically. Employers with more than 20 employees in certain hazardous industries, such as construction, general freight trucking and agriculture will also need to file electronic reports.

This reporting will also provide OSHA the ability to watch for trends and uncover problems with workplace safety, such as a rise in a type of injury or illnesses within a particular industry.

Source: osha.com, "OSHA's final rule to 'nudge' employers to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses," May 11, 2016

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