A federal judge on Thursday ruled that injury and illness records of America’s employers are not confidential and must be disclosed in a key decision that strikes down corporate and government secrecy around worker safety.
Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ordered the federal Labor Department to release the logs, known as Form 300As, where employers note the number of people who were injured and died on the job, in response to a lawsuit filed by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.
Reveal filed a Freedom of Information Act requesting the information more than two years ago. The government denied the request, citing an exemption in the law that shields government records collected for law enforcement purposes. After the lawsuit was filed, government attorneys from the Department of Justice defending the case soon dropped that argument and asserted that the injury logs could not be disclosed because they were confidential business records.
The ruling has broad implications. Understanding which employers are the most dangerous could motivate more employers to improve safety and provide workers with a deeper understanding of the risks associated with their jobs. The records can also help hold companies accountable. Last year, with help from warehouse workers, Reveal managed to obtain the injury records for some of Amazon’s warehouses, and discovered that Amazon’s injury rates for those were sky-high compared to the industry average.
“This case is a great win for freedom of access,” said D. Victoria Baranetsky, Reveal’s general... Read More >