The move by the Labor Department will prevent public disclosure of records of employee injury and illness, a change sought by a variety of business groups that argued the rule could damage the reputations of some of its member companies.

Employers have been required to keep logs on injuries and illnesses among workers ever since 1971. Between 1995 and 2012, OSHA had required about 180,000 companies in high-risk injuries to submit data by mail. But the program was expensive to run, and the government later decided to expand the program and move to an electronic reporting system instead.

The new rule took effect on Jan. 1, with employers required to send in their data by July 1. But the reporting website was never launched, and the department now says it's not currently accepting electronic submission.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce spokesman Randy Johnson said member companies worried the information "could be used by unions and others to smear companies."

But not everyone agreed with the move.

David Michaels, who ran OSHA from 2009 to 2017 and is now a professor at George Washington University, said: “Sixteen years worth of that data is on the web right now, but no one complains about it. We know by making injury rates public some employers will work to prevent injuries because they want to be seen as safe employers and they want be seen as good employers.”

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