For decades, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has required companies to provide health and safety reports for review. Starting February 2017, OSHA will make that information public on its website. This comes at little burden to employers as they are providing OSHA data that they already collect. The difference is that this injury information will now be public.
Before applying for a job in a hazardous industry, applicants will be able to check employer safety records, and see at which job sites workers most frequently suffer severe injuries. Employers will be able to compare their safety records against those of the top performers in the industry. Journalists, researchers, and worker advocates will have more data at their fingertips.
Legally, employers must provide their employees with safe workplaces. Yet more than three million workers are injured at work every year.
According to a post on the agency’s website: “At OSHA, we take our mission to protect the safety and health of the nation’s workers extremely seriously, but our enforcement staff is often overwhelmed by the sheer number of inspections required throughout the country. Based on current staffing levels, it would take well over 100 years to inspect each of the workplaces under our jurisdiction. Additionally, in comparison to environmental and consumer enforcement agencies, our penalties are low – so low, they often fail to serve as a deterrent.”
Exemplary companies that focus on quality generally have low injury rates because the work process is tightly managed. In nursing home environments, for example, elevated injury rates may reflect inadequate staffing or lack of investment in safety equipment. To attract both skilled job seekers and potential patients, the nursing home registering more accidents must improve its safety performance.
In short, disclosure of injury rates will make workplaces safer. And that is good for everyone’s bottom line.