Published on March 25, 2014

TIA criticizes proposed OHSA on workplace safety

WASHINGTON—A proposed rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses is fundamentally flawed and should not be promulgated in its current form, according to the Tire Industry Association.

“While TIA supports OSHA's laudable goal of promoting safe and healthy working conditions for American workers, we would like to register our strong opposition to the rule as proposed and suggest that the agency withdraw the proposal,” TIA said in comments submitted to OSHA March 7.

The pending OSHA standard would require electronic submission of injury and illness data from employers and also require various changes to the way the data is submitted. Employers with 250 or more employees would have to submit injury and illness information quarterly instead of annually.

OSHA issued the proposed rule Nov. 8 and called for comments from interested parties. TIA was one of nearly 1,100 organizations, groups and individuals to submit comments on the document.

Both the methodology and the economic cost estimates of the rule are badly flawed, according to TIA.

“We do not see the advantage of increasing the burden on large employers by requiring quarterly reporting as opposed to the current annual requirements,” the association said. “Additionally, this data is highly sensitive and must be treated as confidential.”

While OSHA relied on legal precedent to determine that workplace injury and illness data are not confidential, those precedents are red herrings from the standpoint of this particular regulation, according to TIA.

“The relevant policy question in terms of confidentiality is whether the raw injury and illness data, if published on a website, could be misused to the detriment of the employer supplying it and the extent to which information in this form is in fact useful to consumer decision making,” TIA said.

“We strongly believe that the nature of this data would be vulnerable to misuse by competitors and that it lacks the proper context to be a valuable tool for consumers,” it said.

OSHA significantly underestimated the annual cost of compliance for companies with 250 or more employees, TIA said. OSHA estimated compliance costs of $183 annually. TIA places the estimate at $2,064 annually for a member with 65 stores in multiple states.

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