A proposal floated by OSHA late last week to create a public database of workplace injury and illness statistics is receiving strong criticism from the manufacturing industry officials and advocates who claim the data would do little to improve workplace safety and could be used unfairly or misinterpreted to the detriment of companies' reputations.
As reported in EHS Today and elsewhere, OSHA chief David Michaels announced the proposal in a conference call with reporters, saying the scheme "does not add any new requirement to keep records; it only modifies an employers obligation to transmit these records to OSHA."
Micheals said the proposed rule would give employers, employees, the government and researchers "better access to data that will encourage earlier abatement of hazards and result in improved programs to reduce workplace hazards and prvent injuries, illnesses and fatalities."
The proposed rule was denounced by industry groups including the National Association of Manufacturers. Amanda Wood, NAM's director of labor and employment policy said OSHA's proposal "could lead to unfair characterizations fo business by people who just see a statistic and don't know the circumstances behind it."
Marc Freedman, executive director of labor law policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, concurred, commenting to the Wall Street Journal, "Just because you have an injury, it does not mean there was employer fault. … Reporting the injury records does not tell the full story of the company."
And Baruch Fellner, a lawyer with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher who represents companies on workplace safety issues, told the Journal that OSHA's proposed "data site" would "provide third parties, whether they're unions or public interest groups, an opportunity to mislead, misinform and pursue agendas that have little to do with public safety and health."
Read EHS Today's full report here.