Last week, the years-long saga of OSHA’s 2016 injury and illness record-keeping rule took another turn, leaving many employers confused about what injury records they must submit to OSHA. In this quick-and-easy FAQ, we clear up the confusion with answers to the top 10 questions about OSHA’s new injury and illness records rule.
1. What happened last week?
Under President Obama, OSHA issued a new injury and illness record-keeping rule in 2016. A major point of controversy was its new requirement that employers not only keep injury and illness records on file for OSHA and employees to inspect or request, but also that employers submit the detailed OSHA 300 logs and OSHA 301 incident reports to OSHA on a regular basis. The result would be extremely personal information becoming public records.
Under President Trump, OSHA had postponed those provisions. Last week, OSHA took the final step in reversing those requirements by issuing a final rule.
2. Which injury and illness records am I required to maintain?
One thing that has not changed is which records you are required to keep. You are still required to keep the same records as before. The new rule just relieves you of having to submit them all.
Records you must still keep (if you had to keep them before) include:
- OSHA Form 300: Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (lists each recordable injury or illness)
- OSHA Form 301: Injury and Illness Incident Report (as appropriate for incidents)
- OSHA Form 300A: Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (full-year summary)
Employers required to keep such records still must produce them to OSHA upon request. This can happen, for example, when OSHA does an inspection or inquires about a specific hazard or incident.
3. After the new rule, who must submit records to OSHA?
Only certain employers must submit. You are required to submit Form 300A if:
(1) You had 250 or more employees at any time during the previous calendar year, and you are required by the OSHA regulations to keep Part 1904 records, OR
(2) Your establishment had 20 – 249 employees at any time during the previous calendar year, and your establishment is in an exempt industry listed in Appendix A.
In addition, if OSHA contacts you specifically to request your records, you must submit them.
4. Which injury and illness records am I required to submit to OSHA?
Under the new rule, those who must submit only have one form to submit: OSHA Form 300A, the Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. This form just contains a summary of incidents, without particular detail for each event.
Please note: OSHA did add one new requirement to the Form 300A submission. Now, you must include your Employee Identification Number.
Of course, if OSHA specifically contacts you to request other required Part 1904 records, you must submit those in response to the request.
5. When is the annual Form 300A submission due?
For those who must submit it, Form 300A is due by March 2nd each year, with information about injuries and illnesses occurring during the prior calendar year.
6. How do I submit records electronically to OSHA?
Submit records via OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application web site.
7. Do I still have to post my OSHA 300A annual summary at work?
Yes! Glad you asked because starting tomorrow (Feb. 1), you must post a copy of Form 300A “in each establishment in a conspicuous place or places where notices to employees are customarily posted. You must ensure that the posted annual summary is not altered, defaced or covered by other material.”
The summary must remain posted from February 1 through April 30.
8. Do I still have to report deaths and severe injuries within hours?
Yes! The new record-keeping rule does not change the existing requirements to report severe injuries. As a reminder, you must report to OSHA:
- Within 8 hours, any employee death resulting from a work-related incident.
- Within 24 hours, any employee in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or eye loss resulting from a work-related incident.
9. Why did OSHA change the record-keeping rule again?
OSHA says that the OSHA 300 and 301 forms contain “information that may be quite sensitive, including descriptions of workers’ injuries and body parts affected.” It was concerned about a risk that “such information might be publicly disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).” Indeed, some organizations have argued that this data should be publicly available.
The current OSHA says that it has all the information it needs to do its job without collecting these additional details. By not collecting this information, it says it can protect privacy and focus resources where they are most needed. Many employers also support the change because the information on these logs and reports often lacks important context to understand a particular situation or event and may include facts that are preliminary because they are still under investigation. As a result, those viewing the records publicly may misunderstand or jump to incorrect conclusions about what occurred.
10. Is this long saga over yet?
Nope. Even before OSHA’s final rule last week, there already was ongoing litigation on these rules, and the new final rule has prompted another round of lawsuits involving many of the same parties. The plaintiffs include Public Citizen, the American Public Health Association, and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. They argue, among other things, that in 2016 OSHA provided compelling justification for collecting these injury details and that the current OSHA did not provide enough support to reverse the rules.