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OSHA Rollback Endangers Worker Health and Safety, Lawsuit Says

Court Should Overturn Partial Rollback of OSHA’s Electronic Reporting Rule, Finalized During Shutdown

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The court should overturn the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rollback of its electronic reporting rule, Public Citizen said in a complaint (PDF) filed today with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The complaint was filed on behalf of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, the American Public Health Association and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists.

The electronic reporting rule, issued in May 2016, requires certain businesses with 250 or more employees and employers in high-risk industries with 20 or more employees to electronically submit workplace injury and illness records to OSHA. The data supplied by the rule is crucial to protecting worker health and safety and facilitating independent research into workplace hazards.

In July 2018, OSHA announced its intent to rescind the requirement that workplaces covered by the rule must electronically submit information from their OSHA Forms 300 and 301. The final rollback rule – published today, despite the partial government shutdown and funding lapse of the Federal Register – failed to provide a reasoned explanation for reversing OSHA’s position on the risks and benefits of requiring establishments to electronically submit these forms.

“When it issued the electronic reporting rule after an exhaustive process, OSHA concluded that requiring the submission of workplace injury and illness data would greatly enhance worker health and safety. OSHA has now rushed through a new rule drawing exactly the opposite conclusion, but OSHA has failed to provide any good reason for reversing itself,” said Michael Kirkpatrick, the Public Citizen attorney handling the case.

The complaint is based on OSHA’s violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. As set forth in the complaint, OSHA’s rollback is arbitrary and capricious, is not a product of reasoned decision-making, lacks support in the record, fails to adequately respond to public comments opposing it and undermines worker health and safety. The plaintiffs are asking the court to mandate that OSHA require and accept electronic reporting rule submissions within 30 days, as required by the 2016 rule.