A new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule effective January 1, 2017, requires that some workplace injury and illness information already tracked and recorded by employers be submitted to OSHA electronically for posting on OSHA’s website.
OSHA regulations currently require employers with more than 10 employees in most industries to keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses at their establishments. Employers covered by these rules must prepare an injury and illness report for each case (Form 301), compile a log of these cases (Form 300), and complete and post in the workplace an annual summary of work-related injuries and illnesses (Form 300A).
Until passage of the new rule, OSHA had limited means of collecting and analyzing workplace injury and illness data. Under the new rule, employers will now electronically submit data from these forms to OSHA. As described in the Supplementary Information accompanying the publication of the final rule, “[t]he main purpose of [the electronic collection of data] is to prevent worker injuries and illnesses through the collection and use of timely, establishment-specific injury and illness data. With the information obtained through this final rule, employers, employees, employee representatives, the government, and researchers may be better able to identify and mitigate workplace hazards and thereby prevent worker injuries and illnesses.”
The electronic submission requirement applies to the following:
- Establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to keep OSHA injury and illnesses records must electronically submit OSHA Forms 300 and 301; and
- Establishments with 20-249 employees that are classified in certain industries with historically high rates of occupational injury and illnesses must electronically submit OSHA Form 300A (a list of covered industries is available at https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/NAICScodesforelectronicsubmission.html).
Data submission from required forms will be due on July 1 for the first two years following the effective date of the rule. Beginning in 2019, the submission deadline will change to March 2nd. OSHA will provide a secure website for data submission, which is scheduled to go live in February 2017.
The agency has also indicated that it will post some of the data collected to the OSHA website which will be viewable by the public. OSHA believes that public disclosure of the data “will encourage employers to improve workplace safety and provide valuable information to workers, job seekers, customers, researchers and the general public.” The data posted will vary depending on employer size and industry type. OSHA has pledged to remove all Personally Identifiable Information before data is released to the public. Further, the rule requires that states that operate their own job safety programs, called OSHA State Plans, must adopt substantially identical requirements.
Finally, the new rule contains anti-retaliation provisions that protect workers who report injuries or illnesses. Although the anti-retaliation provisions already existed, OSHA previously could not enforce them unless a worker filed a complaint with OSHA within 30 days of the alleged retaliation. The new rule allows OSHA to cite an employer for retaliation even in the absence of an employee complaint if OSHA finds evidence that retaliation occurred or if the employer systematically discourages reporting through the threat of retaliation.
Employers covered by the new rule should become familiar with it and review OSHA’s new website for posting workplace injury and illness data once it becomes available. Employers should also perform their own due diligence in removing any Personally Identifiable Information to the extent allowable prior to submitting data to OSHA. Most importantly, given that injury and illness data will soon be publicly available, employers should continue to emphasize workplace safety and provide any necessary training to ensure worker safety is given the highest priority.