How The OSHA Final Rule Impacts Your Business

OSHA’s “final rule” went into effect on January 1, 2017. The final rule revises OSHA’s Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (29 CFR 1904). Businesses must now electronically submit the workplace injury and illness data they already record directly to OSHA.

Initially, businesses were to submit their completed 2016 Form 300A electronically by July 1, 2017, but OSHA published a notice in the Federal Register proposing a delay for compliance until December 1, 2017. All businesses with more than 20 employees are now required to submit a completed Form 300A “Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses” before year-end.

By 2018, businesses with over 250 employees will also need to file Form 300 “Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses,” and Form 301 “Injury and Illness Incident Report” as well as Form 300A. Thereafter, the deadline for data submissions is March 2nd.

Why The Change?

OSHA believes data sharing will improve workplace safety. Publicly available data will highlight achievements and shortcomings so employers are more likely to focus on safety. The ultimate goal is to reduce accidents and injuries, which ultimately improves your company’s bottom line.

Data sharing on the OSHA website will start in 2018. Anyone can access OSHA’s valuable data starting next year including employers, employees, customers, 3rd party contractors, employee representatives, other government agencies, and researchers. Employers can use the data to benchmark their own safety performance against other similar businesses.

Open access ensures data accuracy and completeness. OSHA will also analyze data to improve resource efficiency, particularly regarding compliance assistance and enforcement. By identifying, targeting, and removing hazards, they intend to reduce injuries, illnesses, and death.

Increased OSHA Powers

The final rule stipulates employer responsibilities regarding the reporting process. Employers must notify employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses, without retaliation. Employers can meet this requirement if they post OSHA’s “It’s The Law” poster. Employers must also provide a reasonable procedure that does not discourage or deter employees from filing illness or injury reports.

The difference under the final rule is OSHA now has the power to cite an employer for retaliation, even when an employee does not file a complaint. OSHA can also act if they discover the employer’s program deters or discourages employee reporting.

Employers can still call for employee post-incident drug testing, providing the test or the threat of a test is not used in retaliation for illness or injury reports. Drug testing to meet state requirements is not retaliatory.

Filing Data Electronically

OSHA’s secure website allows three data submission options. Users can 1) manually enter data into an online form, 2) upload an Excel CSV file for single or multiple establishments, or 3) submit electronic data via an API (application programming interface) from their own recordkeeping software.

Access is through the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) launch page and all data submissions are based on the size of the establishment, not the firm. An establishment is a single physical location where your company performs services or operations.

Even though employers submit data electronically, they must retain and certify their records just as they did before. OSHA estimates it will take 10 minutes to create an account and another 10 minutes to input the data, if your business decides to use the online form. It may take slightly longer if you submit data through the API or with an Excel CSV file.

OSHA does not store “personally identifiable information” such as employee names, addresses, physician or healthcare worker names, or the treatment facilities. They have specific software to remove this information before it’s posted to the website.

Gilbert’s Risk Solutions’ extensive industry experience and knowledge regarding OSHA requirements can help you transition from paper to electronic submissions easily. We’re local, reliable, and easy to talk to, so contact us for assistance. We’ve helped people for over 160 years, and we can assist you too.


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