Top 5 things you need to know about complying with OSHA record-keeping requirements.
In place since 1971, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) record-keeping requirements are designed to help employers recognize workplace hazards and correct hazardous conditions by keeping track of work-related injuries and illnesses and their causes.
The requirements, however, are far from stagnant. With changes happening all the time, it’s easy for companies to forget regulations, or not be aware, of everything that needs to be done to stay in compliance. The following are tips from local insurance and legal professionals.
Comply from the top.
Kelley Calandro, insurance and risk advisor with Brown & Brown of Louisiana, LLC, says the highest-ranking official onsite at the company should be reviewing injury logs frequently and certifying the logs at the end of the year.
OSHA defines a company executive as someone who “owns the organization, acts as an officer at the organization, is the highest-ranking official working at the establishment or the immediate supervisor of the highest-ranking official.”
“Having a company safety manager or administrative assistant maintaining the logs and signing off may not satisfy the requirements, unless that person is also a company executive,” Calandro says.
You’ve got to keep up.
Sean Morrison, managing attorney with Sean Morrison Law Offices LLC in Slidell, says the one rule you can count on is that the rules change every year.
“OSHA requirements are constantly shifting and it’s important to keep up with all the changes,” he says. “I recommend that unless you hire someone to keep track of it all to check in with the OSHA website at least once a year. It’s tough for attorneys to keep up with all the changes, let alone a business.”
No more required electronic recordkeeping.
Speaking of changes, during the government shutdown in January 2019, OSHA rescinded the Electronic Recordkeeping rule.
“The rescission eliminates the requirement for companies with 250 employees or more — and companies with 20 employees or more that are in OSHA’s high-risk categories — to electronically submit information from the OSHA 300 and 301,” Calandro says. “However, they are still required to electronically submit the OSHA 300A information annually. The deadline for submission is March 2 from the previous year covered by the form, but a paper copy of the 300A is required to be posted on-site in a conspicuous area by February 1 until April 30 each year.”
Don’t assume you don’t have to participate.
“The biggest mistakes that businesses make include not understanding that they need to complete and maintain OSHA records or knowing that they need to complete and maintain OSHA records but choosing not to,” says Justin Uebinger, owner and president of Advanced HSE Consulting, LLC, — a Lafayette-based company that provides services to LCI Worker’s Comp. “Understanding the 29 CFR 1904 Standard on recordkeeping is vital as impacted employers need to understand what constitutes an OSHA recordable, how to record it properly on the correct forms, the timeframe in which it must be recorded, posting requirements, etc.”
Morrison adds that some businesses, like grocery stores or museums, may not realize they are required to report instances, and if employers required to report don’t report issues OSHA can issue heavy fines and citations.
Often, employers do not provide enough details about the injuries that occur. This could be problematic and could even cause OSHA to issue fines.
“The employer must provide a complete and accurate description of each injury or illness, including the parts of the body affected and the object or substance that injured the person,” Calandro says. “Be as specific as possible. For example, ‘cut on hand’ is not specific enough. A better description would state, ‘laceration on index finger due to contact with sharp edge on welded metal.’”
Another example of a record-keeping mistake is failure to correctly count the number of days away from work or the number of days of job transfer or restriction on Form 300, which then affects the accuracy of information on lines K and L of the 300A. Employers must count all calendar days that an employee had restrictions or a job transfer, as well as days away from work, beginning from the day after the incident occurred.
“This means that you count weekends and holidays too, even if the employee would not have worked on those days,” she says, adding, “You may stop counting days of restricted work activity or days away from work once the total of either or the combination of both reaches 180 days.”
It may be confusing when it comes to whether a case is reportable vs. recordable. Calandro notes all work-related injuries or illnesses should be reported following the company’s internal procedures, but only those that meet OSHA’s definition for a recordable injury should be included in the OSHA injury log.
“Your policy should require reporting of all incidents (including near-misses), injuries requiring first-aid treatment only, and those occurring during voluntary participation in an activity,” she says. “The reported incidents should then be evaluated to determine whether they are recordable under OSHA. A lot of times a case simply requires first aid and your insurance may pay a claim since an employee was seen by a doctor, but that does not make it recordable.”