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New OSHA Rule Focuses on Worker Medical Records Privacy

July 29, 2020, 3:59 PM

A new OSHA final rule released Wednesday is meant to preserve worker medical privacy and streamlining of agency review of medical records during inspections.

The rule takes effect Thursday and was first proposed in 2014. It establishes the position of medical records officer at Occupational Safety and Health Administration headquarters to decide when field staff conducting inspections will have access to employee medical records that contain information identifying the worker. The duty had been assigned to OSHA’s top administrator, the assistant secretary.

The rule also prohibits OSHA from releasing or sharing employee medical records except in some circumstances, such as research by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or Department of Justice enforcement cases where workers’ health is a concern.

Since 2014, OSHA offered several different dates for releasing the rule. Employer and worker groups offered no objections (RIN:1218-AC95).

An OSHA representative didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bruce Rolfsen in Washington at BRolfsen@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Martha Mueller Neff at mmuellerneff@bloomberglaw.com; Andrew Harris at aharris@bloomberglaw.com

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