OSHA releases new workplace injury and illness reporting requirement

SNFs will have to electronically submit injury and illness data for public posting on OSHA's website under the new rule
SNFs will have to electronically submit injury and illness data for public posting on OSHA's website under the new rule

Skilled nursing facilities will be required to electronically submit their workplace injury and illness data under a new final rule released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Requiring employers in high-hazard industries — including skilled nursing, one of the most injury prone — to electronically submit the injury and illness data will help “modernize” data collection, OSHA officials said. The requirements will take effect on August 10 but will be phased in for data submission beginning in January 2017.

Employers in high-risk industries are already required to collect this data, OSHA noted, but adding electronic submission will allow the agency to share the information publicly in what will become the largest public database of work injuries and illnesses.

"Since high injury rates are a sign of poor management, no employer wants to be seen publicly as operating a dangerous workplace,"  wrote David Michaels, Ph.D., MPH, in a news release. “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.”

Increasing access to injury data also will help the agency send compliance resources to workplaces where employees are at greatest risk, and allow researchers to mine the data for studies on injuries causation, safety hazards and prevention activities, Michaels added.

In addition to the electronic submission provision, the final rule adds safeguards for employees wishing to report injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation. Under the rule workplaces will be required to have a “reasonable,” non-threatening procedure for reporting work-related injuries.