OSHA Releases Electronic Recordkeeping Final Rule

On May 12, 2016, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule (Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses) revising its regulation on Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (29 CFR 1904). The final rule requires employers in certain industries to electronically submit injury and illness data that they are already required to keep under existing OSHA regulations. The amount of data submitted will vary depending on the size of company and type of industry.

Analysis of this data will enable OSHA to use its enforcement and compliance assistance resources more efficiently. OSHA also intends to post some of this information on its website. OSHA believes that public disclosure (public shaming) will encourage employers to improve workplace safety and provide valuable information to workers, job seekers, customers, researchers and the general public.

Electronic Reporting

The new reporting requirements will be phased in as follows:

  • Establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017. These same employers will be required to submit information from all 2017 forms (300A, 300, and 301) by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.
  • Establishments with 20 – 249 employees in certain high-risk industries must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017, and their 2017 Form 300A by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.

With regards to the 27 states that operate their own safety and health plans, those states will have to adopt requirements that are substantially identical to the requirements in the final rule within six months after publication of the final rule.

Retaliation

In addition to the new reporting requirements, the final rule also amends OSHA’s recordkeeping regulation to update requirements on how employers inform employees to report work-related injuries and illnesses to the employer. The final rule:

  • Requires employers to inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation. This obligation may be met by posting the OSHA Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law poster from April 2015 or later.
  • 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.
  • Incorporates the existing statutory prohibition on retaliating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses.

These provisions go into effect on August 10, 2016.

Going Forward

In light of the final rule, employers should:

  • Review the final rule to see how they are affected by the new reporting requirements.
  • Review any policies and procedures regarding the reporting of workplace injuries by employees to ensure they do not violate the provisions prohibiting retaliation.
  • Ensure supervisors and managers are trained as to the new electronic reporting requirements, procedures for reporting workplace injuries, and how to identify and avoid conduct that may be seen as retaliatory.
  • Verify that they have the latest Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law poster displayed.

OSHA has created a web page regarding the final rule that contains a fact sheet and frequently asked questions (FAQs).

About Rick Montgomery, JD

Rick Montgomery is ThinkHR’s Managing Legal Editor and oversees the creation and management of ThinkHR’s online resource library. He is a licensed attorney with over 15 years of experience writing HR compliance related content.