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OSHA may eliminate electronic injury reporting requirements

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is proposing changes that would reverse a reporting mandate some Pennsylvania businesses may find objectionable. The change is in response to a previous rule update requiring the publishing of OSHA's 300 logs and 301 forms on the agency's website. However, employee names and sensitive personal information would be redacted before publication. In response to employer complaints and an administration change, the agency opened proceedings to discuss rescinding the new rule.

It's not known if public disclosure of such information might directly affect individual workers' comp claims. But because of the ongoing debate, OSHA hasn't been firm about the date that employers with 250 or more workers would be required to file their reports detailing work-related injuries or illnesses for publication on the OSHA website. As a result of the confusion, many employers have already missed initial deadlines set by the agency.

Legal action was filed against OSHA for not making information already gathered public. Additional litigation has been initiated for failure to hold proceedings to discuss concerns about electronic reporting. The agency has responded by suggesting the elimination of the requirement altogether. Even with redaction, critics contend details about when and where incidents took place would still allow affected employees to be identified. Some legal professionals with an opinion on the matter have suggested that employers use the potential of having to report workplace injuries as an opportunity to improve internal record-keeping processes.

Regardless of whether or not worker injury information is ever made public, an attorney can take several steps if an employee has difficulty filing claims following a temporary or permanent injury. For instance, a lawyer can file an appeal if an initial claim is denied or if full benefits are not granted. An attorney may also be able to gather more compelling medical evidence, arrange for testimony from a vocational expert or present evidence of a history of unsafe working conditions.

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