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OSHA Changes Reporting Procedures



The public will soon be able to see what injuries occurred at your business. Starting in 2017, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will take the information it already collects from employers and post it online.

OSHA recently released a final rule, which becomes effective on January 1, 2017, that requires employers to electronically submit information on workplace injuries. This information will be posted on the department’s website, www.osha.gov.

According to the department, the new electronic reporting procedure offers one, a better way to track workplace injuries and illnesses, and two, incentives to employers to create safer working environments.

“One important reason stems from our understanding of human behavior and motivation,” OSHA stated. “Behavioral economics tells us that making injury information publicly available will ‘nudge’ employers to focus on safety. And, as we have seen in many examples, more attention to safety will save the lives and limbs of many workers, and will ultimately help the employer’s bottom line as well. Finally, this regulation will improve the accuracy of this data by ensuring that workers will not fear retaliation for reporting injuries or illnesses.”

OSHA stated that by releasing the data in open formats, it hopes to encourage employers to increase their efforts to prevent worker injuries, and compel their competitive spirit to be the best in terms of worker safety. It also enables researchers to examine the data that may help employers make their workplaces safer by identifying new hazards.

The rule affects businesses with 250 or more employees that are currently required to keep OSHA records and employers with 20 - 249 employees that are in industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries. Automotive parts, accessories and tire stores are included in this list.

The information will be submitted to an OSHA-provided secure website by one of three ways. First, users will be able to manually enter data into a web form. Second, users will be able to upload a CSV file to process single or multiple establishments at the same time. Last, users of automated recordkeeping systems will have the ability to transmit data electronically via an API (application programming interface). The site is scheduled to go live in February 2017.

The new reporting requirements will be phased in over two years. Those employers with 20 -249 employees must submit their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017, and their 2017 Form 300A by July 1, 2018. But, beginning in 2019, all forms must be submitted by March 2. The same goes for employers with more than 250 employees.

OSHA stated that the final rule also protects employees who report an injury. The department stated that the data received from these companies will only be accurate if the employees feel free to report their injuries without fear of retaliation. To do this, the rule requires employers to inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation, which can be satisfied by posting the already-required OSHA workplace poster. It also clarifies the existing implicit requirement that an employer’s procedure for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses must be reasonable and not deter or discourage employees from reporting; and incorporates the existing statutory prohibition on retaliating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses.

Read the fact sheet here at www.osha.gov.

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