The U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is advancing plans for an expanded recordkeeping and reporting rule that has drawn concern from construction industry groups who say the data on workplace injuries and illnesses could be mischaracterized. Labor groups have been supportive of the final rule, which is set to take effect at the start of next year.

The rule, which OSHA published in the Federal Register July 21, largely restores annual record submission requirements included in an Obama-era rule that OSHA had partially walked back during the Trump administration, with some additional changes. Establishments with 100 or more employees in certain sectors, including foundation, structure and building exterior contractors and some construction materials producers, will need to submit Forms 300 and 301 to OSHA every March. Form 300 has employers log any work-related injuries or illnesses. On Form 301, employers provide further detail about any incidents and the healthcare employees received after it. Under the rule, more construction and other employers will also need to submit Form 300A, which summarizes total incidents. 

The rule also adds a new requirement that employers use their legal company name when making the submissions, which OSHA says will enable it to better determine whether a particular company met reporting requirements. 

Doug Parker, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, said in a statement that the data from the forms would provide industry-level insights and help workers and employers make more informed decisions.

“OSHA will use these data to intervene through strategic outreach and enforcement to reduce worker injuries and illnesses in high-hazard industries,” Parker said. 

Industry Opposition

The rule has drawn opposition from construction industry groups. Organizations including the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, Associated Builders and Contractors, Associated General Contractors of America and Portland Cement Association signed a comment last year urging OSHA to withdraw the proposed rule. Brian Turmail, AGC’s vice president of public affairs and strategic initiatives, said in a statement that the group’s “primary concern is the potential mischaracterization of a contractor’s safety and health program in the absence of proper context.”

OSHA says it plans to publish data from the Form 300 and 301 submissions online after redacting information that could identify a specific employee. It already posts Form 301A data online. It started posting the information in 2020 after several courts ruled it could not exempt the data from Freedom of Information Act requests. 

“Accurate reporting and recording of workplace injuries and illnesses is key to a contractor’s efforts to continuously improve their safety and health culture and performance,” Turmail said. “However, OSHA has not provided any supporting data to indicate that publicly disclosing this information will help contractors, employees, or the public.”

Ben Brubeck, ABC’s vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs, said in a statement that the sensitive information disclosed on the forms could “easily be manipulated, mischaracterized and misused for reasons wholly unrelated to safety.” Open shop contractors in particular could face “false or distorted claims of ‘unsafe’ contracting based on isolated incidents taken out of context” by unions, he claimed. 

Labor groups have been largely supportive of the rule since OSHA proposed it last year. Rebecca Reindel, safety and health director for the AFL-CIO, wrote in a comment responding to the proposal that the group “strongly supports” reinstating the record submission rule and added that the agency should expand the requirements to more businesses. 

“If OSHA does not collect the data in a proactive manner, it is a lost opportunity to know critical information on workplace injuries and illnesses,” Reindel wrote.