To reduce work-related fatalities, injuries, and illnesses we need to learn as much as we can about who is being hurt and what is hurting them.
To do this, Cal/OSHA needs to improve access to and public availability of information that is already being collected by employers (that is, OSHA Forms 300 Log of Work-Related Injury & Illness, 301 Incident Report, and 300A Summary).
By gathering this information electronically, Cal/ OSHA could analyze it to more effectively target enforcement and consultation resources and its education and outreach efforts.
The data will also allow researchers to analyze the experience of employers to better understand the injury and illness they experience, alongside the characteristics of work sites. It will increase access by workers to information about the conditions in their own workplace. It will also allow an employers’ clients, customers, and prospective employees to know more about the company.
Currently, Cal/OSHA has very limited ability to gather electronic injury and illness records at the establishment level. Public health researchers, policy makers, and the public have virtually no access to establishment-level information. And employees often have a hard time getting information from their employer, though they have a right to it.
In 2016, federal OSHA for the first time mandated electronic submission of injury and illness data by employer establishment for the largest employers (Form 300, 301, and 300A), and required limited electronic submission by smaller employers from specific higher-hazard industries (Form 300A only).
This was one step in taking OSHA recordkeeping into the 21st Century, to make accessible data which employers already must collect. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has reversed part of this rule, eliminating the requirement to submit the more detailed establishment-level information from large employers (Forms 300 and 301).
Worksafe is advocating for California to collect this information, even though federal OSHA will not. An advisory committee is meeting in May 2019 to discuss whether and how California can do this.
Without this information, we will be left to search in the dark — wasting lives and resources along the way. Without this information we might be swayed by the false and harmful notion that worker carelessness is to blame for fatal injuries.