The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced that it is proposing the first publicly available database which details workplace safety information. While the agency and its supporters say this will help provide safer working conditions for workers, companies and their critics argue the data could be misinterpreted and misused to create their own agenda.
Under the proposal, the 38,000 privately owned companies with 250 employees or more are required to provide a list of on-the-job injuries each quarter along with the cause of each injury. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says it will collect the data as well and post it on its website. While many companies already collect the information and post the injury rate summaries at its work sites, they do not typically report it to OSHA. While OSHA collects injury rates from approximately 60,000 companies a year and are now stored on OSHA’s website, the information is basically incomplete.
The proposal would further require another 440,000 companies to report injury and illness rates. According to the Labor Department, almost 3 million workers are injured or become ill at work in any given year.
Both the Labor Department and OSHA say this proposal will encourage companies to provide greater details of workplace accidents and illnesses when they occur and show they are making efforts to provide their employees a safer environment, but some say that these companies may under-report the number of injuries and illnesses because they know these statistics will be made public.