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OSHA Final Rule on Electronic Reporting 

In May 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) published its long-awaited electronic record-keeping rule (“final rule”). The final rule creates numerous new record-keeping obligations and additional administrative burdens for employers with more than 250 employees that are currently subject to OSHA’s record-keeping regulation.  In addition, employers with 20 to 249 employees in certain high risk  industries  must also comply with the new rule. Specifically, these employers will now be required to submit injury and illness information to OSHA electronically from their OSHA 300, 300A and 301 forms. The final rule also includes new anti-retaliation provisions that provide new protections for employees reporting work-related injuries and illnesses.

Q:  Why is OSHA collecting the data and how will it be used?

Answer from OSHA’s website:  “Electronic submission of establishment-specific injury and illness data will enable OSHA to use its enforcement and compliance assistance resources more efficiently. Analysis of the data will improve OSHA’s ability to identify, target, and remove safety and health hazards, thereby preventing workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths.  The agency will make the injury and illness data public, as encouraged by President Obama’s Open Government Initiative.  After removing any Personally Identifiable Information (PII) that could be used to identify individual employees, OSHA will post the data on osha.gov. Interested parties will be able to search and download the data. OSHA believes that posting timely, establishment-specific injury and illness data will provide valuable information to employers, employees, employee representatives, and researchers.

This rule applies principles of behavioral economics underlying President Barack Obama’s Executive Order 13707, “Using Behavioral Science Insights to Better Serve the American People”. OSHA believes that public disclosure of the data will “nudge” employers to improve workplace safety (without an OSHA inspection)  in order to demonstrate to investors, job seekers, customers, and the broader public that their workplaces provide safe and healthy work environments for their employees.”

In order to ensure the completeness and accuracy of injury and illness data collected by employers and reported to OSHA, the final rule also:

  1. requires employers to inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation;
  2. 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
  3. incorporates the existing statutory prohibition on retaliating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses.

The electronic reporting requirements of the final rule will be phased in, beginning on January 1, 2017. Notably, however, the anti-retaliation provisions will become enforceable very soon, on August 10, 2016.

You can read more on the OSHA Final Rule by clicking here.