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Should OSHA reports be made public?

Federal regulators are proposing an exciting new possibility - to make OSHA workplace safety reports available to the public. This would make it easier for employees and others to view the safety records of various companies and would perhaps encourage better compliance with workplace safety regulations.

A spokesperson for OSHA also said that it may make life easier for inspectors who would be able to more readily check on the past records for a given facility. Another added benefit would be more data made available to researchers and others looking to study the issues around workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths.

Increased disclosure is a part of a larger initiative undertaken by the Obama Administration to make government data more available to the public.

This initiative would apply to companies with over 250 employees, requiring those companies to submit data on a quarterly basis. For smaller companies of 20 or more employees, a summary with information about workplace injuries and illnesses will be required only once a year.

At the moment annual summaries are all that is required and they are not submitted to the general public but rather posted in a common area on the premises so that employees can view them at work. OSHA does provide data on their website about workplace accidents and illnesses but there are no details on what the injury was or the causes of the injury.

What do you think - is this initiative helpful to workplace safety? Or will public disclosure make little difference in preventing workplace accidents?

Source:, "OSHA plans to make workplace safety reports public," Sam Hananel, Associated Press, Nov. 7, 2013

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