OSHA Finalizes Illness/Injury Reporting Rule

Posted May 13, 2016 at 1:26 pm

OSHA recently issued a final rule that enables the agency to post employer injury, illness data online and cite employers for discouraging workers from reporting injuries and illnesses.

Employers with safety-incentive programs that don't meet OSHA requirements can be cited for rule violations under a sweeping new record-keeping final rule the Labor Department announced on May 11.

The new rule, which takes effect Aug. 10, also requires about 466,000 work sites to electronically submit annual injury and illness log data to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, enabling the agency to post on its public website summaries of each establishment's records. The electronic submission requirement starts taking effect in 2017 and will be phased in through 2019.

While the rule requires electronic filing for about one-third of the establishments now required to maintain OSHA injury and illness logs, the rule doesn't change what injuries or illnesses employers are already required to record.

The new rule seems certain to face a federal court challenge.

Two sets of employers will have to comply with the electronic record-keeping provisions; all establishments with 250 or more workers—about 34,000 locations— and another 432,000 establishments in designated high-hazard industries with 20 to 249 workers.

The high-hazard industries include construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, utilities, agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting and about 60 smaller industry groups, including commercial laundries, grocery and department stores, many types of residential health-care facilities, freight trucking and warehousing.

OSHA estimates the annual compliance cost for employers once the rule is fully implemented at $15 million, with at least $7.2 million spent by employers with 250 or more workers and at least $4.6 million by workplaces with 20 to 249 employees.

In addition to the annual costs, OSHA estimated employers will spend about $16.6 million in first-year costs to comply with the rule. The costs include $8 million for employers to buy and put up new posters explaining the rule to workers.

Because the rule's cost is less than $100 million annually, it can't be quashed by Congress and a president using the Congressional Review Act.

OSHA will phase in implementation of electronic reporting. The transition should provide time to educate employers about the reporting system.

In the first year, establishments are mandated to submit only the information from the Form 300A by July 1, 2017, and continue the practice annually.

In the second year, establishments with 250 or more employees must also submit information from Forms 300 and 301 by July 1, 2018, and continue the practice every year.

In the third year, the reporting date is moved up to March 2, 2019, and in subsequent years remains March 2.

OSHA is still working out the technical aspects of how reports will be filed. After reports are submitted, OSHA will clean the files of information identifying individual workers and post data online for each establishment, Michaels said.

OSHA's proposed rule had called for large employers to submit reports quarterly. Because of concerns about the additional workload for employers and the usefulness of quarterly reports, OSHA opted for annual reports, the rule says. Click here for details.

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