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New York joins OSHA lawsuit over annual electronic reporting

A recent requirement rollback has six states, including New York, suing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for what they see as a senseless rule change. The lawsuit centers around a 2016 rule, which required businesses with 250 or more employees to electronically submit annual reports on all employee injuries and illnesses.

OSHA recently chose to eliminate that requirement due to concern over potential public disclosure of workers’ sensitive information. Employers still must complete the forms and make them available to OSHA inspectors, as this was the rule prior to 2016.

Six states disagree

Attorneys general in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts and Minnesota filed their lawsuit on March 6 in the U.S. District Court of Columbia. They argue the reversal does not have any legal basis and that OSHA forms don’t contain personal identifiable information, and that the rollback harms their states’ proprietary interests and quasi sovereign interests.

The complaint seeks an injunction against OSHA, the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Loren Sweat. It criticizes OSHA for what it calls an “about face” on what they see as an important tool for workplace hazard reporting and claims any privacy concerns are “illogical.”

Reporting allows OSHA to monitor workplace safety enforcement programs, help workers spot risks and encourage employers to avoid hazards. When the 2016 rule was implemented, the administration at the time said it would help OSHA and states achieve these goals more efficiently.

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