Employers should be aware of a proposed OSHA recordkeeping rule that is expected to be issued as a final rule this year. The proposed rule requires employers to electronically report to OSHA data on serious workplace injuries and illnesses that the employers already collect on OSHA injury logs. OSHA will provide a secure web site for the data collection, and will make all of the data it collects publicly available online after redacting personally identifiable information.

In particular, employers with 250 or more employees will be required to electronically report to OSHA the information currently reported on Forms 300 (log of work-related injuries and illnesses), 301 (injury and illness incident report) and 300A (summary of work-related injuries and illnesses). This requirement will not apply to businesses with 250 or more employees that are partially exempt from keeping injury and illness records. The proposed rule does not add to or change any employer’s obligations to complete and retain injury and illness records.

The proposed rule will also impact smaller employers. Businesses with 20 or more employees in designated industries will be required to electronically submit the information from OSHA Form 300A to OSHA or OSHA’s designee on an annual basis. This will replace the current requirement that employers that receive OSHA’s annual survey form complete it and mail it in.

So what’s the rationale behind this new rule? According to OSHA, public posting of workplace injury and illness data will encourage employers to identify and eliminate hazards so that they can be seen as leaders in workplace safety. The data will also allow employees and prospective employees to compare safety records at different companies, and allow researchers to better identify causes of injuries and emerging health hazards.

The new rule will not, according to OSHA, result in more OSHA enforcement overall. But it will allow OSHA to identify relatively safe and unsafe workplaces and allocate the agency’s limited resources accordingly. Employers with poor safety records should therefore take heed.