The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. district court for the District of Columbia Monday against OSHA over the agency''s new recordkeeping rule.
The revised regulation was issued in the final days of the Clinton Administration and broadened the steps employers must follow to record workplace injuries and illnesses.
The final rule says that employers are required to keep a log (Form 300) of work-related injuries and illnesses to classify "work-related injuries and illnesses and to note the extent of each case," for each place of employment that is expected to be in operation for at least a year.
The final rule contains definitions of "work-related injuries or illnesses" used for the purposes of determining when an employer must record an injury or an illness on the OSHA Form 300.
These definitions are, in part, why NAM filed the lawsuit against OSHA.
According to Quenten Riegel, NAM assistant vice president and deputy general counsel, the association is suing the agency because it believes the rule too broadly identifies what is considered a recordable injury.
"We found some good things about the regulation and we also found a number of different problems with it," said Riegel. "One of our greatest concerns is that it expands the definition of a recordable to situations that are not necessarily work related."
The regulation says that a recordable is any pain or other symptom. NAM is arguing pain is wholly subjective and can mean anything.
"An employee may have a back strain that could be caused by something outside of the workplace, such as bowling," said Riegel. "But if the workplace aggravates the symptom significantly than it has to be recorded."
The NAM complaint also argues that the final rule is "arbitrary and capricious because it will not accomplish any of the purposes for which it was assertedly promulgated."
OSHA claims that the final rule was issued to "produce more useful injury and illness record, collect better information about the incidence of occupational injuries and illness on a national basis, promote improved employee awareness and involvement in the recording and reporting of job related injuries and illnesses and simplify the recordkeeping system for employers."
NAM says, the final rule "produces less useful information on injuries and illnesses than the regulations it replaced, degrades the quality of the information collected on the incidence of occupational injuries and illnesses, and, among other problems, severely complicates the injury and illness recordkeeping system for employers."
Riegel said the next step is for OSHA to formally respond to the complaint, which it has not yet done.
However, Riegel expects that at some point OSHA and NAM will discuss the associations concerns and may be able to reach an agreement outside of the court room.
"In light of the change in administration, OSHA may be more receptive to our concerns," said Riegel. "I expect that there will be discussions both inside and outside of the court room that may result in a resolution."
The new recordkeeping rule is supposed to take affect Jan 1, 2002.
NAM is the nation''s oldest multi-industry trade association representing 14,000 member companies and 350 member associations serving manufacturers and employees in every industrial sector.
by Virginia Sutcliffe