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OSHA Now Requires Electronic Recordkeeping

Thursday, June 22, 2017
OSHA Now Requires Electronic Recordkeeping
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UPDATEOn November 22, 2017 OSHA proposed to delay enforcement of the requirement for many employers to electronically submit information from their OSHA 300, 300A, and 301 forms by August 1, 2017 to December 17, 2017. This requirement was included in OSHA’s “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses” standard published on May 11, 2016.

The agency invites the public to submit comments to help facilitate its review of this aspect of the standard. OSHA “determined that a further delay of the compliance date is appropriate for the purpose of additional review into questions of law and policy”.

Affected employers are concerned about the potential reputational damage caused by making their safety statistics publicly available. A number of employer and business groups have filed suit arguing against ALL of the provisions in the “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses” standard. It is unknown when these cases will be heard and what the outcome may be.

Employers should be cautioned, however, the most controversial aspects of the standard became effective and enforceable on November 1, 2016. Please refer to the briefing in the link below for more information or contact your Horton representative.

On July 13 2016, OSHA delayed the date for Employers to comply from August 10, 2016 to November 1, 2016.  Read More //

Background

The headline itself isn’t particularly eye catching or alarming, but the implications of the final rule issued on May 11th should be of great concern to many affected employers.

Since the OSH Act passed into law in 1970, the agency has required most employers to complete and maintain a log of occupational injuries and illnesses. You may recognize these as the OSHA 300, 300A, and 301 forms. Your obligation as an employer is to document “recordable” injuries or illnesses on the log and then complete, and post, the OSHA 300A form for the recently completed calendar year by February 1.

This information never actually “went anywhere”. If OSHA conducted an inspection of your operation, you would be asked to produce the logs so the compliance officer could review them for accuracy, calculate incident rates, and compare your incident rates to your peer group. Many employers push the responsibility of completing the OSHA log and 300A form to a clerical position in accounting, operations, or human resources.

Starting around 2003, OSHA required certain employers to fill out a form using information from the OSHA 300 log and 300A and submit electronically, by fax, or mail to the agency. The data was used to compile a list of the nation’s “most dangerous employers” and the agency instructed local compliance offices to inspect these businesses on the premise their incident rates exceeded rates for their peer groups. Budget sequestration forced the cancellation of this data collection initiative with 2011 being the most recent year of injury statistics the agency maintains.

New Rule

As of May 11th, everything has changed. The new rule will require employers with more than 250 employees to submit information from their 300 log, 300A summary, and 301 forms (or their equivalent). Employers must do this by July 1, 2017, to report information from their 2016 logs.

Employers with more than 20, but less than 250 employees will be required to submit information from the 300A form only by July 1, 2017. Employers with between 20 and 250 employees are limited to industries listed in Appendix A of the new rule.

2018 is another phase in year and information from both groups of employers must be filed electronically by July 1, 2018. Information for both groups must be filed by March 2 of each year thereafter.

Implications

The implications of this new rule are numerous. First, the agency will have access to real-time injury and illness information for affected employers. This means they will be able to calculate incident rates, compare against employer peer groups, and target employers for inspection from a massive database of information. The agency claims this is meant to target the most dangerous employers, but doesn’t take into account employee friendly workers’ compensation laws, aging workforce issues, or other factors that may tend to make an employers’ safety program appear worse than what it actually may be.

Also, the information submitted by employers will be readily available to the public, much like the OSHA inspection history is currently available. OSHA claims making the information available is similar to restaurants who are required to post results of their health inspections, but the information will be a prime target for attorneys, unions, customers, competitors, and the media.

Conclusion

Business and employer groups fought mightily against this electronic recordkeeping requirement because of the inspection that will ensue and the potential poor publicity this information may generate. Some concessions made to the proposed rule including reducing quarterly reporting for employers with more than 250 employees and “limiting” the number of affected employers with less than 250 employees to so-called “high hazard” industries.

For affected employers, preparing OSHA logs and 300A summaries will be akin to preparing and submitting corporate tax returns. Employers will want to check and double check before submitting this information to OSHA. It is our experience most employers tend to over-report injuries and illnesses on their OSHA log. With electronic filing, over-reporting could push incident rates above the peer group rate resulting in an inspection.

Accurate OSHA recordkeeping and the recording of the actual number of hours worked by all employees are now as important as the accurate filing of a corporate tax return. Persons assigned the responsibility of completing the OSHA log and 300A summary form had better possess the knowledge and skills necessary to complete the logs accurately, or employers are at risk of inspection.

Horton’s safety consultants possess the knowledge and expertise necessary to complete OSHA logs accurately. The time spent accurately preparing logs is far more effective than the time spent dealing with an inspection triggered by inaccurate recordkeeping practices.

For additional information, please visit the OSHA website:

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.

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