Maine governor resists workplace safety data plan

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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - A proposal from the federal government to make more specific workplace safety data available online could violate individuals’ privacy and embarrass employers and workers, Maine officials said this week.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s administration is pushing back against the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which wants to require that injury and illness reports broken down by employer are available online.

The public would be able to view the names of employees and how many illnesses and injuries the business reported that year. The new rule wouldn’t apply to businesses with 20 or fewer employees.

Workplace injury and the number of workplace injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time workers are currently available online, but the information isn’t broken down by employer.

Federal officials say the update will allow safety officials focus on industries of concern while giving employees access to that information. They maintain that personal information would be protected.

“Public posting of workplace injury and illness information will nudge employers to better identify and eliminate hazards,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

But the Portland Press Herald (http://bit.ly/NGPbAZ) reports that LePage officials are concerned about the lack of assurances from the federal government that enough personal information would be removed so that workers won’t be identified.

Releasing the information could put injured workers in embarrassing or hostile situations, said Jeanne Paquette, commissioner of Maine’s Department of Labor.

“Posting information online to embarrass workers and employers who have had accidents is the wrong way to encourage workplace safety, especially when it can violate the privacy of an individual who is already suffering from a workplace accident,” LePage said in a statement.

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Information from: Portland Press Herald, http://www.pressherald.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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