Business and Economy
12:48 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Criticizes OSHA Digital Reporting

Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello
Credit Provided / Oklahoma Department of Labor/ok.gov

Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello testified Thursday before the U.S. Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration  against a proposed federal regulation made by OSHA.

The proposal would require U.S. businesses to electronically submit workplace injury and illness reports to OSHA so the information could be posted online.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, Costello asked him to “stand down on this proposal.”

Costello told The Oklahoman earlier this week making the information available could have unintended consequences and would create a list for attorneys to use in search of possible lawsuits.

“What is coming out under the federal government today is something which is unprecedented and unproven and, in my opinion, universally unwelcomed,” said Costello, euphemistically referring to the proposed regulation as “naming and shaming.”

Costello said he has discussed the proposed Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulation with 20 to 25 Oklahoma businessmen and described their reactions as “alarmed, concerned and discouraged.”

During Thursday’s testimony, Costello called the idea “naming and shaming” by OSHA, and said it could be used in adversarial way by a company’s competitors, lawyers, or union leaders.

“The proposed rule will serve to harm the reputation of the employer,” Costello said. “It’s the functional equivalent of painting a scarlet letter on individual businesses while creating a pick list for trial lawyers nationwide.”

Costello said Oklahoma markets no-cost state OSHA consultation services that he says have reduced workplace accidents and injuries.

“For example, one Tulsa based company who participated in Safety Pays saw a recordable rate drop by 83% and Workers’ Comp direct costs drop by 92%, resulting in a savings of $250,000,” Costello said. “A Sand Springs participant has logged over 500,000 man hours without a lost time incident. There are many more positive examples that testify to voluntary consultation as the best answer to improving workplace safety.”

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