New York, 5 other states sue over new OSHA rule

by Bobby Steinbach

In the course of your employment in New York, there are many ways that you could suffer an injury. Some injuries are minor, such as a stubbed toe or a paper cut. Others are more severe. There are also some that may seem severe but that turn out not to be too bad. An Achilles heel injury is one of those. It can be bad enough to require surgery or it may heal on its own.

We have helped thousands of New Yorkers get millions of dollars in compensation

We have helped thousands of New Yorkers get millions of dollars in compensation

We have helped thousands of New Yorkers get millions of dollars in compensation

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has long required employers to maintain records of every occupational illness or workplace injury that occurred among their employees. These records were to be kept available for OSHA to inspect.

In 2016, however, a new rule was put in place for employers with 250 or more employees. Instead of merely maintaining the records, these large employers would be required to submit them electronically to OSHA.

The idea was to make it easier for both employers and OSHA to get a sense of overall workplace illnesses and injuries, to spot worrisome trends, and to target resources toward problem areas. It would encourage companies to recognize and abate hazards on their own. It would give workers the information they need to identify risks in their own workplaces. It would provide crucial information to researchers who study occupational health and safety. Ultimately, it would help make workplaces safer and prevent on-the-job injuries and illnesses.

Troublingly, OSHA has just announced a near-complete reversal on the rule.

The 2016 rule required large employers to submit an annual summary of work-related illnesses and injuries; a log of those illnesses and injuries; and an injury or illness incident report. OSHA’s new proposed rule would eliminate the required submission of the second and third forms.

Why has OSHA rolled back a rule that could promote greater safety?

In a statement, OSHA claimed that it eliminated the electronic submission of the detailed reports to protect workers’ privacy.

“By preventing routine government collection of information that may be quite sensitive, including descriptions of workers’ injuries and body parts affected, OSHA is avoiding the risk that such information might be publicly disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act,” it said.

It also asserted that reversing the requirement will “improve enforcement targeting and compliance assistance, protect worker privacy and safety, and decrease burden on employers.”

Six states, including New York, sue to put rule back in place

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Illinois, and Minnesota have filed a federal lawsuit to prevent the rollback of the 2016 rule. They consider the electronic submission of detailed information to be “an essential tool” for tracking workplace hazards.

They say that when the rule was adopted in 2016, worker privacy was taken into account. Even the detailed reports contain no personally identifiable information. The states call OSHA’s defense of the change illogical and unjustified.

Do you think submitting forms electronically — forms they are already required to complete — is unduly burdensome for large employers? Or does the potential for increased worker safety and health justify the collection of this data?

Explore Our Locations

Manhattan Headquarters

One State Street Plaza, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10004 Details


26 Court Street, #2216, Brooklyn, NY 11242 Details


92-03 Jamaica Ave, Woodhaven, NY 11421 Details


369 East 149th Street, 7th Floor, Bronx, NY 10455 Details

Long Island

265 Sunrise Highway, Suite 31, Rockville Centre, NY 11570 Details

Staten Island

Free Case Consultation

Get your free, immediate case evaluation

By submitting you agree to our Terms & Privacy Policy.