OSHA Proposes Expansion of Occupational Injury & Illness Reporting
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to prepare and maintain records of occupational injuries and illnesses (I&Is), and to provide employees with annual summaries of I&I statistics for their "establishment." At present, OSHA and/or the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) can demand that selected employers report this information to them. BLS uses this information for statistical analyses of factors that cause workplace injuries and illnesses, and OSHA uses it to set rulemaking and enforcement priorities. In addition, OSHA requires all employers to report work-related accidents that result in one or more serious injuries or deaths (what OSHA calls "catastrophes").
On November 8, however, OSHA published a proposal to improve tracking of I&Is, by requiring selected categories of employers to submit I&I information electronically. OSHA claims this extra reporting will impose only minimal burdens on the targeted employers, and that agencies, employees and the public will benefit when OSHA compiles and posts these additional statistics on the Internet.
What Are Ongoing I&I Recording Requirements?
OSHA's existing I&I requirements apply to most employers, although requirements are tailored.
Most employers must maintain a Log and Summary of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (the Log and Summary). Employers use OSHA Form 300 or an equivalent for the Log, and Form 300A for the Summary. Recordable occupational I&Is include:
Fatalities, regardless of the time between the injury or illness and death.
Cases that involve any lost workdays.
Nonfatal cases without lost workdays that result in transfer to another job or termination of employment, or require medical attention beyond first aid, or involve loss of consciousness or restriction of work or motion, or involve occupational illnesses reported to the employer.
OSHA exempts employers in certain low-hazard industries from these requirements. Exempt industries include: automotive dealers and gasoline service stations; eating and drinking places; banks and credit agencies; miscellaneous retail; personal and business services; etc. In addition, employers with fewer than 10 employees are exempt except when selected to participated in a BLS survey. However, employers exempt from these routine record record-keeping or state provisions must still report serious incidents, as described below.
Nonexempt employers must complete the Log and Summary with the previous year’s statistics and post it annually, by February 1, at each facility in a place where notices to employees are customarily posted. (Employers with no fixed place of business are subject to special record record-keeping provisions.) The Log and Summary must remain posted for at least three months (i.e., February – April).
OSHA also requires employers to complete additional forms that provide supplementary information about each individual occupational injury and illness, within six working days after learning about a recordable case. OSHA provides Form 301 for doing so, but allows employers to substitute workers’ compensation, insurance, or other forms as long as equivalent information is recorded. These forms require descriptions of the accident or illness, listing the objects or substances involved, and indicating the nature of the injury or illness.
Employers must retain Log and Summary documents, and supplemental forms for five years. These records must remain accessible to employees and employee representatives upon request.
In addition to routine recording of all occupational injuries and illnesses, employers must report serious incidents ("catastrophes"). OSHA requires all employers to report by telephone within eight hours after any work-related incident that results in one or more deaths or the hospitalization of three or more employees. Initial reports must include the following information:
Establishment information: name, address, location, and type of business
Employee information: numbers affected (and name and employment status in the follow-up form reporting)
I&I information: location, time, summary of incident and resulting I&I
Contact person and telephone number
Name and title of person reporting.
If the employer does not learn of the incident immediately, then reporting requirements apply as soon as the employer does learn of the incident. In addition, if an injury or illness was initially recorded under routine record-keeping requirements (see above) and an employee subsequently dies of related causes, the employer must file a follow-up written report within five days.
What is OSHA Proposing?
OSHA is not proposing any changes to the contents of I&I recordkeeping requirements. However, OSHA is proposing to require electronic filing of I&I information as follows:
Quarterly electronic filing by establishments with 250 or more employees in the previous calendar year
Annual electronic filing by establishments with 20 or more employees in the previous calendar year, and in designated industries (i.e., those that BLS calculates have 2 or more serious injuries per 100 employees per year)
Immediate electronic reporting of catastrophes, by all employers.
OSHA estimates that the costs of this incremental reporting will be minimal—a total of $11.9 million per year, based on $183 each for establishments with 250 or more employees, and $9 each for other establishments. These estimates assume most workplaces have computers and access to the Internet.
In addition, OSHA plans to post the I&I data online. OSHA believes that public access to timely, establishment-specific injury and illness data will improve workplace safety and health, because it believes online posting will:
"Encourage employers to improve and/or maintain workplace safety/health to support their reputations as good places to work or do business with".
Encourage employees to contribute to improvements in workplace safety/health, and facilitate their knowledge of workplace events by providing automatic access to information about their own workplaces and about competing employers' workplaces.
Provide potential employees with comparative information that may affect their choice of jobs.
Provide the general public with access to data, which may affect their choice of business relationships.
Provide researchers with more and broader data.
What Happens Now?
OSHA will accept comments until February 6, 2014, and has not estimated how long it may take to issue a final rule. Once it is finalized, the 25 state programs delegated to administer OSHA requirements ("state plan states") will have 6 months to adopt comparable requirements. The proposal does not suggest how long employers will have to begin to comply.
Are any of my organization's "establishments" required to comply with I&I recording and posting requirements?
Does each establishment record and maintain required I&I information in electronic format(s)?
How do injury and illness rates at my organization's establishments compare with competitive organizations' rates?
Where Can I Go For More Information?
OSHA I&I recordkeeping webpage
OSHA "Workplace Injury, Illness and Fatality Statistics" webpage
BLS "Injuries, Illnesses and Fatalities webpage
OSHA proposal in the November 8, 2013 Federal Register
Specialty Technical Publishers (STP) provides a variety of single-law and multi-law services, intended to facilitate clients’ understanding of and compliance with requirements. These include:
About the Author
Jon Elliott is President of Touchstone Environmental and has been a major contributor to STP’s product range for over 25 years. He was involved in developing 16 existing products,including Workplace Violence Prevention: A Practical Guide to Security on the Job and Directors' and Officers' Liability.
Mr. Elliott has a diverse educational background. In addition to his Juris Doctor (University of California, Boalt Hall School of Law, 1981), he holds a Master of Public Policy (Goldman School of Public Policy [GSPP], UC Berkeley, 1980), and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (Princeton University, 1977).
Mr. Elliott is active in professional and community organizations. In addition, he is a past chairman of the Board of Directors of the GSPP Alumni Association, and past member of the Executive Committee of the State Bar of California's Environmental Law Section (including past chair of its Legislative Committee).
You may contact Mr. Elliott directly at: email@example.com.