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OSHA plan would make safety reports public

WASHINGTON — The Labor Department wants companies to begin filing all workplace injury and illness reports electronically so they will be available for all to see.

The department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s plan part of a proposed rule that would dramatically change the way companies file safety reports, a person familiar with the proposal who was not authorized to discuss the matter said anonymously.

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In a description of the rule, OSHA said a new electronic reporting system would help the government, workers, researchers, and the public more effectively prevent accidents and illnesses. The agency said the change also supports President Obama’s initiative to increase access to government data.

The plan would apply only to companies with more than 250 employees.

While the proposal is expected to please labor and workplace safety groups, business groups are likely to oppose it. They say raw injury data can be misleading or contain sensitive information that can be misused.

Marc Freedman, executive director for labor policy at the US Chamber of Commerce, said the mere recording of an injury does not tell the full story about it or whether the company has a good safety program. ‘‘Making company-specific data on injuries available for all to see would be a major problem and would likely lead to companies being targeted by outside groups who want to characterize these employers as having bad safety records,’’ he said.

Under current rules, employers must post summaries of injury and illness reports where they can be seen by employees.

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