Improved regulations covering release of occupational exposure and medical data to employees, their designated representatives, health professionals or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will become effective Nov. 28.
That word comes from John A. Pendergrass, assistant secretary of labor, who said, "The changes announced today reflect OSHA's experience over the past eight years in requiring employers to provide workers with access to records of exposure to toxic substances and medical rec-ords created in the workplace."Doug McVey, administrator of the State Industrial Commission's Occupational Safety and Health Division, which administers the program in Utah, said his agency must adopt standards on the subject at least as strong as the federal rules.
He said adoption of new regulations must go through the rule-making process, which includes holding public hearings, if requested.
Pendergrass said the rule on medical record access complements the agency's hazard communication standard.
"Access to medical and exposure records enable workers to track their own health through any records the employer creates. Together, the rules form a regulatory structure which meets workers' need for information about workplace hazards and the health consequences resulting from exposure to those hazards," he said.
The access rule doesn't require employers to create medical records or conduct toxic substances exposure monitoring, but it does mandate retention of exposure monitoring records for 30 years.
The changes from the May 23, 1980, records include:
- Excluding first aid records and medical rec-ords of short-term (less than one year) employees from 30-year retention requirements.
- Permitting microfilm storage of all employee X-rays except chest X-rays.
- Providing additional protection for trade secrets, in line with the hazard communication standard.