The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is proposing a rule change that would no longer require large employers to electronically submit the private health data of employees. OSHA introduced this proposal at the end of July 2018, and the organization has received thousands of comments about the issue from businesses and advocacy groups throughout Texas and the rest of the country. The rule change specifically affects Forms 300 and 301.
Many businesses have applauded OSHA’s proposal as it releases a large regulatory burden due to the large amounts of health records that needed to be sent to the government. Other proponents feel that this is a win for the privacy concerns of employees. Some labor unions have described the action as cynical. They believe that the government can adequately protect the private data, but there have been incidents where government records have been breached.
A lawsuit in federal courts complicates this matter. A work safety advocacy group called Public Citizen is suing the OSHA for access to many of the health records it collected in 2017. Public Citizen’s goal is to help improve heat safety standards, but many are concerned about the privacy implications. OSHA says that the organization will listen to both sides of this issue and come up with a final decision by the summer of 2019.
When an employee is involved in a workplace safety issue that results in an injury, he or she may be able to get compensation from their responsible employer. Victims may seek compensation for lost wages, medical bills, rehabilitation, and even pain and suffering. In some cases, the employer will be willing to make a settlement, but other employers may wish to dispute the issue, requiring a lawsuit to be filed in court.