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OSHA Ordered to Release Company Injury Data

August 9, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 32

OSHA has been ordered to provide the New York Times with the names and lost workday illness and injury rates of 13,000 companies with the highest workplace injury rates in 2000. The Times had sought the data under the Freedom of Information Act, but its request was denied by OSHA, which claimed the specific data were confidential business information and that it would take years of effort for OSHA to obtain permission from all the companies to release the numbers. OSHA had listed the names of the 13,000 companies with the highest injury rates, but it did not provide specific injury rates because those data could be used to calculate a company's employee workhours, a number that OSHA at the time considered confidential business information. The Times filed a lawsuit, and Judge Shira A. Scheindlin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that OSHA's denial was "illogical" and that the data must be provided. Scheindlin wrote in the ruling that OSHA no longer considers employee workhours confidential information and that providing such numbers from four years ago really provides nothing more than outdated information. OSHA has 60 days to appeal the decision.


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