TRENTON – Acting to protect workers and promote workplace safety, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today led a coalition of 7 Attorneys General in calling on the Trump Administration to abandon its planned rollback of a rule requiring employers to publicly report detailed information on workplace injuries and illnesses.
In his letter to the U.S. Department of Labor, Attorney General Grewal called the planned rollback a “disservice to the working men and women of America.” Publishing detailed information on workplace injuries and illnesses, the letter explains, benefits “employees, researchers, state and local governments, workplace safety and health professionals, and the general public.”
The letter explains that public reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses offers “significant benefits” to workers. Public disclosure “encourages employers to self-police and improve their workplace safety practices.” Public disclosure “gives employees, potential employees, and contracting entities the tools they need to demand better workplace safety from employers.” And public disclosure “allows state and local government agencies to better target our own enforcement efforts.”
“By choosing to hide information about workplace injuries from the public eye, Washington is putting irresponsible employers over their employees,” said Attorney General Grewal. “But the Administration has it backwards: workers are the backbone of our economy, and they deserve workplaces that are safe. Workers should know about the dangers at work, so that they can demand accountability from their management. Because Washington is refusing to stand up for transparency and for worker safety, New Jersey is standing up.”
“Eliminating transparency at the federal level will make it harder to identify the worst workplaces and go after employers who put workers at risk,” Attorney General Grewal added.
Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said, “The mission of our Department is to help provide New Jersey employees with a safe and healthy work environment. The federal proposal to limit public access to these reports will make it harder to determine injury patterns and target educational and compliance outreach. Ultimately, it will make working people less safe and hazards less transparent.”
The multi-state letter also explains that the Trump Administration’s reasons for the rule are meritless, and so its rule is unlawful “plain and simple.” According to OSHA, this rule is not necessary because OSHA does not plan to use the information in its enforcement efforts. The Administration also said the rollback is appropriate because colleting and publishing the required information threatens worker privacy.
Regarding any worker privacy concerns, the letter notes, OSHA developed “a workable and effective system for mitigating” such concerns two years ago when the 2016 reporting requirement was created. The letter adds that other agencies collect similar information with no difficulty. As a result, “OSHA’s reliance on workers’ privacy to justify rescission of a rule that was widely supported by workers and their advocates cannot withstand serious scrutiny.”
Regarding OSHA’s assertion that it now has no use for the injury and illness information required by the 2016 rule, the Attorneys General point to many other benefits that accrue from collecting and publicly disclosing such data. Workers, employers, state agencies, and researchers all use this information to demand workplace safety, and to punish irresponsible employers who fail to comply.
“OSHA’s abrupt change of course, based on no new facts and an invented argument about worker privacy, is a textbook example of arbitrary and capricious rulemaking,” the letter concludes. “We urge OSHA to remain faithful to its mission of ensuring safe conditions for workers by withdrawing this harmful and flawed proposal.”
The coalition submitting this letter includes the Attorneys General for Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington.
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