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New OSHA Rule Requires Employers to Provide Direct Access to Injury and Illness Reports: Prompts Review of Workplace Safety Policies and Procedures

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) just finalized its workplace injury reporting rule.  The new rule, which OSHA has been working on since 2013, goes into effect on January 1, 2017, and requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data to OSHA. The rule adds another layer of administration regarding workplace safety.  Not only do employers have to record the information internally on OSHA Injury and Illness forms (i.e. Forms 300A, 300 and 301), they will have to provide OSHA with direct access to that same information; which may decide to make the information available to the public.

Dr. David Michaels, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, had this to say about the new employer requirements:

“Our new rule will nudge employers to prevent work injuries to show investors, job seekers, customers and the public they operate safe and well-managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target compliance assistance and enforcement resources, and enable ‘big data’ researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer.”

No Retaliation

In addition to the new reporting requirements, employers must be aware that the final rule contains an anti-retaliation provision.  This provision goes into effect on August 10, 2016, well ahead of the electronic data submission requirement.  Once effective, employers must inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation.  In other words, employers cannot take any adverse action against an employee simply because the employee reported an incident or illness.  In light of this, employers may need to update their workplace safety policies and review reporting mechanisms to ensure they are reasonable, easily understood by the average employee, and do not in any way discourage employees from reporting.

Important Dates Complete Implementation

Employers with two hundred fifty (250) or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017. On or before July 1, 2018, these same employers must provide OSHA information from all 2017 forms (300A, 300, and 301) by July 1, 2018. Starting in 2019, and continuing every year thereafter, employers will have until March 2nd to submit the information.

Employers with twenty to two hundred forty nine (20-249) employees that fall within the category of high risk industry as defined by OSHA, must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017.  On or before July 1, 2018, these same employers must provide OSHA information from their 2017 Form 300A.  Starting in 2019, and continuing every year thereafter, these employers will have until March 2nd to submit the information

Employers should also expect Minnesota (and any other states where they conduct business) to adopt substantially similar requirements on the state level within the next six (6) months.

For more information on the new OSHA regulations and to have your workplace safety policies and procedures reviewed for compliance, contact attorney Chad A. Staul.

© 2016 Rinke Noonan