Today is the deadline to post internally at your company a copy of your 2017 OSHA 300A summary. But, you’ve still got time – until July – to submit the data to OSHA under the new electronic recordkeeping rule. Should you wait to submit?For years, employers have had to post internally their prior year’s OSHA 300A summary. Often that means a paper copy on a bulletin board that your employees will see between February 1st and April 30th. The form contains summary statistics of the total number of recordable injury or illness cases, number of days away from work, and general types of illness. It does not contain employee names or injury details.
That used to be all you had to do. Now, under a rule adopted in 2016, you will also have to submit the 300A summary to OSHA electronically. But, wait! For those who have to submit it, the data is not due until July 1st, and lots can change between now and then (see our answers to top questions about the new rule here and our run-down of who’s covered here).
What’s at stake?
While it does not include all of the details on the OSHA 300 log, which lists every injury, the OSHA 300A summary still contains the kind of information that most employers prefer to keep within the company. Of course, employees have a right to see the summary and even the detailed log of injuries itself. Companies with strong safety programs regularly share information about incidents and near-misses with employees to promote safety awareness, as well as enhanced policies, practices, and training.
OSHA, as well, has always had the right to view this information. But, it typically did so by specifically requesting the forms from an employer or viewing them during an inspection.
In 2016, OSHA took matters a step further. OSHA argued that sharing a company’s injury and illness data publicly would encourage better safety, theorizing that employers would somehow be able to improve safety more in order to avoid the shame of public exposure. No doubt, OSHA also wants to be able to analyze the data to guide its decisions about which companies will get additional enforcement attention.
So, OSHA passed a new rule requiring companies to submit this data to OSHA and promised to publish the data online for public access. Of course, this summary data lacks much context. The public – and even OSHA – viewing it may not understand much about the nature of the work, the industry, or hazards; what steps – policy development, engineering, equipment, and training – were taken to create a safe workplace; or exactly what happened to cause each injury.
So, should you submit your 300A now?
You may be the kind of person who likes to get things done and check them off the list. But, if you’re not happy about having to share your 300A with the entire world, you might want to wait until closer to the July 1st submission deadline. No one knows if that date will be delayed further or the rule changed.
There’s now a battle underway that will determine the scope of information that OSHA will collect and how much it will make public. OSHA has said that it “intends to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking to reconsider, revise, or remove portions of that rule in 2018.” Many assume that the new administration will push back the rule further though no ones knows what the nominee to lead OSHA, Scott Mugno, will decide.
Outside groups are trying to force OSHA’s hand to release data it collects. Last week, the Public Citizen Foundation filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to force OSHA to release all records that employers submitted under the new rule in 2017 (the first time such submissions occurred).
As of now, you have until July. With so much up in the air, maybe it’s better to wait.