To be effective, union health and safety activists need to identify work hazards and how people are getting injured. One helpful tool is the legally required log of injuries and illness. Both private and public sectors of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration require employers to keep track of workplace injuries and illnesses.
Employees and unions have the right to copies of those records. For New York public-sector workers, the form is the SH900 log. For the private sector, it's the OSHA 300 log. The logs have the name of the injured employee, a brief description of what happened and what the injury or illness is. These do not come under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), so the log is accessible. Logs must be kept for five years. So, the union can ask for all the logs to review.
Websites for both public-sector employees (www.labor.state.ny.us/workerprotection/safetyhealth/DOSH_PESH.shtm) and private-sector employees (http://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/index.html) have information on reporting requirements.