Yesterday OSHA announced a 15-day extension on the due date to submit comments on its proposed changes to the OSHA 300 injury/illness log.   In the agency’s Federal Register notice, OSHA says it:

“received requests from several entities, including the Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, National Association of Home Builders, Associated Builders and Contractors, …[and] their reasons for requesting an extension include the severe February snowstorms.”

It’s hard for me to believe that DC lobbyists of this caliber would have been hindered by a few snow days, but their snowstorm excuse worked.  Interest parties now have until March 30 to submit their comments to OSHA on these miniscule proposed changes to the injury/illness recording form.

Granted, the federal government offices in the DC region were shut down from 2/8-2/11, bolstering the lobbyists’ assertion that they couldn’t “access their offices or meet with their members.”  There was also apparently a mix-up in the number of days OSHA planned to allow for its comment period.  The text of the Federal Register notice said a “60 day comment period,” but the March 15 deadline provided only 45 days.  I realize it would have been difficult for OSHA to deny the lobbyists’ requests.  

You’ll recall that OSHA’s notice for this proposed change to the 300 Log was published on January 29.  This is a simple rulemaking action to add a new column on the official OSHA form used by a fraction of employers who are required by OSHA to record injuries and illness sustained by workers.  The column will be the place an employer would note if the injury/illness is a work-related musculoskeletal disorder (MSD)

Actually, I shouldn’t say “add a new column,” but rather restore the MSD column.  This change to the OSHA 300 Log was supposed to take affect in 2002 and it followed the typical OSHA slower than molasses notice and comment rulemaking period dating back to the 1990’s.  A final rule incorporating this new MSD column was issued on January 19, 2001.   When the GW Bush Administration took office, however, they delayed the effective date of the rule and OSHA officials began to dismantle this key provision of the rule, including the removal of this long-planned MSD column. 

I’ve been around OHS issues long enough in this town to realize that pretty much any hint of regulatory action by OSHA generates a windfall for these trade associations.  They relish getting employers riled up about some alleged BIG BAD OSHA, when past history tells us that their fear mongering is a bunch of baloney.   Here’s a dose of reality:

For this mini-minor recordkeeping form change, I calculate that only 18 percent of all U.S. private sector workplaces are even required to maintain this OSHA form.  It is not required, for example, of employers with 10 or fewer employees, or those involved in many retail, financial, and service industries.  These trade associations can’t seriously argue that this column-adding change on the OSHA 300 log is a time or cost burden to their members.  Besides, most of their members publicly claim they have exceptional safety records anyway—-with GAZILLION hours worked without lost-time injury.   So tell me, how can this change to an OSHA form be a burden if you don’t have any injuries to record?

I’m sick of this shenanigans.