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OSHA Issues Final Rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses

In working with small employers to help them have a safer work environment and in conversations with safety and health professionals, I noted that many are unaware of the Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses regulation (29 CFR 1904) amendment that OSHA issued on May 12, 2016. So I thought it would be helpful to use this month’s consultant’s corner to share the information with our e-letter subscribers who may not have yet heard or read about this final rule.

The final rule requires:
1. Employers in certain industries to electronically submit to OSHA injury and illness data that employers are already required to keep under existing OSHA regulations. The frequency and content of these establishment-specific submissions is dependent on the size and industry of the employer. This takes effect January 01, 2017.

The requirement applies to the following:
• Establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records must electronically submit information from OSHA Forms 300 — Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, 300A — Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, and 301 —Injury and Illness Incident Report.
• Establishments with 20-249 employees that are classified in certain industries* with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses must electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A. The electronic submission requirements do not change an employer’s obligation to complete and retain injury and illness records.

The new reporting requirements will be phased in over two years:

CC Table

Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2. OSHA will provide a secure Web site for the electronic submission of information. OSHA will also post the establishment-specific injury and illness data it collects under this recordkeeping rule on its Web site (www.osha.gov). OSHA will remove any Personally Identifiable Information (PII) before the data are released to the public.

2. Employers to inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation; clarifies the existing implicit requirement that an employer's procedure for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses must be reasonable and not deter or discourage employees from reporting; and incorporates the existing statutory prohibition on retaliating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses. It also clarifies the rights of employees and their representatives to access the injury and illness records. This becomes effective August 10, 2016, but OSHA has delayed their enforcement until Nov. 1, 2016 in order to provide outreach to the regulated community.

Why has OSHA issued this rule?

"Our new rule will 'nudge' employers to prevent work injuries to show investors, job seekers, customers and the public they operate safe and well-managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target compliance assistance and enforcement resources, and enable 'big data' researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer." Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.

This simple change in OSHA’s rulemaking requirements will improve safety for workers across the country. One important reason stems from our understanding of human behavior and motivation. Behavioral economics tells us that making injury information publicly available will “nudge” employers to focus on safety. And, as we have seen in many examples, more attention to safety will save the lives and limbs of many workers, and will ultimately help the employer’s bottom line as well. Finally, this regulation will improve the accuracy of this data by ensuring that workers will not fear retaliation for reporting injuries or illnesses.

*For the list of industries, please access this link to the regulatory text of the Recordkeeping Standard 1904 (Amended):