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Nudge, Nudge. OSHA Revises Injury and Illness Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 7/7/2016
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workplace safety is important and OSHA wants to regulate any accidents

Did you know that each year there are more than 3 million serious (requiring more than first aid) workplace injuries and illnesses? Even though the Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to provide safe and healthy workplaces, the number of injuries and illnesses remains unacceptably high. To help combat this problem, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently revised various workplace safety regulations.

The most notable revision adds an electronic submission requirement to OSHA’s current recordkeeping regulations, which require employers with more than ten employees to keep a record of serious work-related injuries and illnesses. Employers with ten or fewer employees and employers in certain lower-hazard industries are partially exempt from this requirement. This revision becomes effective January 1, 2017, and will be phased in over two years.

It’s important to note that the revised regulations do not change an employer’s current obligation to complete and retain injury and illness records. Covered employers are (and have been) required to record information about recordable injuries and illnesses on three separate OSHA forms.

  • Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses)
  • Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses)
  • Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report)

Under the revised regulations, submission requirements depend on the number of employees working at a single physical location where business is conducted or where services and operations are performed (an Establishment).

Establishments with 250 or more employees must begin electronically submitting information from Form 300A to OSHA by July 1, 2017. Information from all three forms (300A, 300 and 301) must be submitted electronically by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2nd.

Establishments with 20 to 249 employees operating in certain high-risk industries must electronically submit information from Form 300A to OSHA by July 1st of 2017 and 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2nd. Though some of the industries designated as high-risk are obvious (agriculture, utilities, construction, manufacturing), others are not (grocery and department stores, museums, boarding houses). If you’re not sure whether this new electronic submission requirement applies, contact OSHA.

It’s worth noting that instead of taking a more forceful or autocratic approach, OSHA is relying on the Nudge theory to influence decisions made by employers about workplace safety. This principle of behavioral science is based on indirect encouragement and enablement. It attempts to avoid direct instruction or enforcement by minimizing resistance and confrontation. According to OSHA, publishing injury and illness data will indirectly encourage employers to improve workplace safety.

Workplace Accidents

Since the data reported by employers will only be accurate if employees feel free to report injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation, OSHA also made revisions that were designed to promote complete and accurate reporting of work-related injuries and illnesses. Unlike the new electronic submission requirement, these revisions take effect August 10, 2016.

Under the revised regulations, employers must establish a reasonable procedure for employees to promptly and accurately report work-related injuries and illnesses. A procedure is not reasonable if it would deter or discourage a reasonable employee from accurately reporting injuries or illnesses. Employees must be informed about the reporting procedure.

Employers must also inform each employee that:

OSHA will provide a secure website for the electronic submission of information, which will include web forms for direct data entry and instructions for other means of submission. OSHA also intends to provide an interface for entering data from mobile devices.

OSHA estimates that it will take a typical employer with less than 250 employees about 10 minutes to create an account and another 10 minutes to enter the required information from Form 300A. For larger employers, it should also take about 10 minutes to create an account and 10 minutes to enter the required information from Form 300A, but OSHA estimates that it will take 12 minutes to enter the required information for each injury or illness recorded on their Forms 300 and 301.

Are these estimates realistic? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Please contact us if you would like more information about improving workplace safety or training employees to reduce work-related injuries or illnesses.

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