As we’re all aware, construction is a dangerous occupation, but just like any business decision, it’s hard to figure out how to solve the problem without having data for back up. OSHA has just released a final rule for employers in high risk industries, including construction, which requires companies to make injury data available to not only OSHA, but the general public.
Effective August 10, 2016, construction companies with more than 20 employees will have to electronically submit injury and illness information to OSHA. Companies with 20-249 employees will only have to submit that information on OSHA form 300A, but companies with more than 249 employees will have to submit that information on forms 300, 300A, and 301. Companies are already required to collect this injury and illness data each year, but until this new rule goes into effect, the data was rarely made available to OSHA or the general public.
OSHA hopes that the final rule is a step in the right direction to “nudge” employers to take a more active approach to preventing injuries on the job site. Just as customers and employees are able to find out health department scores for restaurants, prospective construction workers and clients in the bidding process will now be able to evaluate a particular company’s accident history. All this data hinges on accurate and timely reporting by the construction companies themselves, however, so it will be interesting to see how well the administration will oversee the rule. In their news release, OSHA made clear that it is an employee right to be able to report injury and illness to OSHA without fear of retaliation. Companies will also be required to have a “reasonable procedure for reporting work-related injuries that does not discourage employees from reporting.”
In the same news release Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels explained, “Our new reporting requirements will ‘nudge’ employers to prevent worker injuries and illnesses to demonstrate to investors, job seekers, customers and the public that they operate safe and well-managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target our compliance assistance and enforcement resources at establishments where workers are at greatest risk, and enable ‘big data’ researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer.”
There’s no question that big data has led many to be able to focus efforts and solve the biggest problems in many industries, but with a reliance on self-reported data, there has to be a fear that unreported injuries may see a large increase, especially with the “public shaming” aspect now involved.