OSHA makes changes to improve tracking of federal workplace injuries, illnesses

September 2013, Vol. 68 No. 9

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a final rule that will require all federal agencies to submit their OSHA-required injury and illness data to the Bureau of Labor Statistics every year.

This data will allow OSHA to analyze the injuries and illnesses that occur among the more than two million federal agency workers and develop training and inspection programs to respond to the hazards identified.

“This change provides OSHA an opportunity to collect f injury and illness data from all federal agency establishments,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “The data will us help streamline and improve programs to reduce occupational hazards and prevent injuries, illnesses and deaths within the federal workforce.”

Other changes to the recordkeeping rule include amending the date when agencies must submit their annual reports to the secretary of labor and the date when the secretary must submit a report to the president. The rule will also restate that volunteers are considered employees of federal agencies and explain how volunteers’ injuries should be recorded in agency injury and illness logs. The rule will clarify the definition of federal establishment and explain when contract employees should be included on an agency’s log.

Collection of establishment level information will enable OSHA to develop programs to assist agencies in meeting their injury and illness targets under the Protecting Our Workers and Ensuring Reemployment initiative. The POWER Initiative, which covers fiscal years 2011 through 2014, was established by President Obama to extend prior federal government workplace safety and health efforts by setting aggressive performance targets, encouraging the collection and analysis of data on the causes and consequences of frequent or severe injury and illness and prioritizing safety and health management programs that have proven effective in the past.

Federal agencies have been required to follow the same recording and reporting requirements as the private sector since January 2005. Information on the final rule can be found in the Federal Register notice. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.