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Provisions of OSHA electronic reporting rule pushed back

Officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration say they plan to push back the enforcement date of certain parts of a new rule requiring employers to electronically submit records of workplace injuries and illnesses.

The agency sent out a statement late Wednesday afternoon saying it would delay enforcement of the anti-retaliation provisions related to the new rule in order to “conduct additional outreach and provide educational materials and guidance for employers.”

Enforcement of the provisions, originally scheduled to start on Aug. 10, would instead be pushed back to Nov. 1, according to the statement.

The rule requires employers to take records concerning illnesses and injuries and submit them once a year for inclusion in a public database. Companies have always had to keep such records at work sites for OSHA inspectors to review but were under no obligation previously to submit the information electronically.

Agency officials argue the new rule would encourage employers to double down on safe workplaces practices. According to the OSHA website, businesses are more likely to keep a safe workplace when they know that injury and illness data are available to the public.

“We’ll improve the safety performance of thousands of workers without performing more inspections,” David Michaels, assistant  secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health, said in March after the agency issued the final rule. “No employer wants to be seen publicly as operating a dangerous workplace.”

The first reporting deadline associated with this rule won’t come until July 2018.

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