OSHA issued a final rule May 11 amending current recordkeeping regulations to require the electronic submission of injury and illness information employers already maintain under existing standards.
The new requirements take effect August 10 this year, with phased-in data submissions beginning in 2017.
Under the new rule, if your business had 250 or more employees at any time during the previous calendar year and you are currently required to keep injury and illness records (i.e., your industry is already covered by the recordkeeping regulation), you must electronically submit injury and illness information from OSHA Forms 300, 300A, and 301 to OSHA annually.
If your business had 20–249 employees at any time during the previous calendar year, and your establishment is classified in one of these industries (identified by OSHA as having high injury and illness rates), then you must electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A to OSHA once a year.
If your company is not in either of these two categories, then you must submit information from the injury and illness records to OSHA only if OSHA notifies you to do so for an individual data collection.
OSHA will provide a secure website for the electronic submission of information.
The new rule also includes an employer mandate to inform employees that they have a right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation by their employer.
Although the substantive obligations of employers and protections for employees will not change, the new mandate may result in greater employee awareness leading to increased claim activity or protected activity.
The new mandate may result in greater employee awareness leading to increased claim activity or protected activity.
This aspect of the rule targets employer initiatives, such as incentive programs intended to promote safety—by, for example, providing rewards for consecutive injury-free days—but which unintentionally may discourage employees from reporting injuries.
Public Disclosure of Employer Records
In creating the new rule, OSHA says it is “applying the insights of behavioral economics to improve workplace safety and prevent injuries and illnesses”—meaning that the agency plans to post to its website the injury and illness information electronically submitted by businesses.
OSHA expects that public disclosure of work injury data will encourage employers to increase their safety efforts in much the same way as public disclosure of restaurants’ sanitary conditions encourages restaurant owners to improve food safety.