eLABORate: OSHA Issues Changes to Recordkeeping Regulations

May 13, 2016

Employers who are already required to keep a log of OSHA recordable incidents should revisit their handbooks, safety policies and safety incentive programs. The newest recordkeeping rule, finalized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Wednesday, May 11, 2016, likely will require changes to these items, and implementation is just a few months away.

What the Changes Include

OSHA recordkeeping regulations outline the requirements for certain employers to keep records of workplace illnesses and injuries (on OSHA Forms 300, 301, and 300A). The latest recordkeeping rule amends these regulations to add a requirement that certain OSHA-recordable information (stripped of its most confidential data) must be electronically submitted on an annual basis to OSHA. This information will be used for publication on OSHA’s website.

The changes also involve new requirements aimed at encouraging employee reporting of incidents and discouraging employer retaliation for such reporting. Employers now must inform employees of two things:

  1. that they have a right to report work-related injuries and illness, and
  2. that employers are prohibited from retaliating against them for such reports.

The final rule requires that any injury-reporting procedure be “reasonable” and not “deter or discourage” employees from reporting.

The annual electronic submission of records applies to employers with 250 or more employees “at any time during the previous calendar year.” Annual electronic submission is also required for employers with between 20 and 249 employees working in certain high-risk industries. Details on the exact methods of electronic submission are forthcoming, and affected employers should watch for that information in the coming months.

What To Do Now

This rule imposes some significant requirements on covered employers, with a short turnaround time for the earliest implementation. Therefore, covered employers should immediately begin assessing the following:

  • Establish a “reasonable procedure” for reporting workplace injuries or illnesses “promptly and accurately.” The policy must not “deter or discourage” an employee from such reporting. If you already have a policy in place, review it to assure compliance with these new requirements. This will become effective August 10, 2016.
  • Assure that you have notified employees of these policies and of their rights. Review handbooks, new hire orientation and workplace posters to assure proper notification. If revisions are required, any changes should be distributed to existing employees as well as future new hires. This will become effective August 10, 2016.
  • Vet existing safety incentive programs to assure they do not unwittingly deter or discourage employees from reporting workplace-related injury or illness. This will become effective August 10, 2016.
  • Note the due date for annual reporting on their calendar, and keep an eye out for instructions on how to electronically submit information. This will become effective January 1, 2017, with the earliest deadline for reporting information on July 1, 2017.