Federal Agencies Will Have to Adopt Private Sector Reporting Requirements

OSHA has published a final rule requiring federal government agencies to adopt worker safety and health recordkeeping and reporting requirements that are essentially identical to the private sector.

The new requirements go into effect Jan. 1, 2005.

"These new requirements will improve recordkeeping, which will enhance the ability of federal agencies and employees to prevent occupational injuries and illnesses," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "Producing more useful data will better enable the agencies to identify patterns of injuries and illnesses and focus on the most effective intervention."

While the regulation will become effective Jan. 1, notices of violations will not be issued during the first year as long as agencies are making a reasonable effort to comply with the requirements. OSHA will launch a comprehensive outreach and compliance assistance effort early in the implementation period to educate and train federal agencies on the new recording requirements.

The new requirements should enhance the capacity of agency safety and health managers to focus the attention of their illness and injury prevention programs on the most significant hazards; identify types or patterns of injuries and illnesses whose investigation will lead to prevention efforts such as improved work practices or technology development; and provide useful priority-setting information for establishment inspections within an agency.

The new recordkeeping requirements will produce an information base that can assist federal agencies and their employees to maintain safe and healthy working conditions. The importance of accurate recordkeeping to lower injury and illness rates is indicated by experience with OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), a program that recognizes federal agencies and private sector employers with exemplary safety and health programs. VPP worksites, which have comprehensive safety and health management programs that include effective injury, illness, and accident recordkeeping, generally have lost workday case rates ranging from one fifth to one-third the rates experienced by most worksites in the same industry.

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