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New York files suit against federal agency over safety rules

Recently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) struck down the requirement that companies with at least 250 workers submit yearly employee illness and injury reports. The agency said the change was made due to concerns that sensitive employee information was being disclosed publicly.

New York is one of several states that is mounting a court challenge to the reversal of the rule based on the need for this data in order to prevent injuries in the workplace.

The new ruling deals specifically with electronic reporting of OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report) and Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses). Those businesses employing at least 250 workers still must maintain these completed forms at their own facilities. They must also be available on site for OSHA inspectors to view them.

Although the rules have relaxed a bit, companies have to submit electronically a summary of work-related injuries and illnesses on OSHA form (300A). However, no detailed logs of the incident will be submitted.

In its statement, OSHA said:

"By preventing routine government collection of information that may be quite sensitive, including descriptions of workers' injuries and body parts affected, OSHA is avoiding the risk that such information might be publicly disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act. This rule will better protect personally identifiable information or data that could be re-identified with a particular worker."

States joining New York in the lawsuit include Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Minnesota and Illinois. They filed their lawsuit earlier this month in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and seek an injunction against OSHA, the federal Department of Labor, Loren Sweatt, acting assistant secretary of labor for OSHA and Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta.

Regardless of how the courts rule on this matter, companies still have the duty to ensure safe and hazard-free workplaces for their employees. If you are injured on a construction site here in New York City, understanding your rights to seek recovery can make filing a claim easier.

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