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Occupational Safety and Health Law Alert: Change to OSHA's Recordkeeping Rules

Change to OSHA's Recordkeeping Rules - a Reminder and a Delay

July 18, 2016

To improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses, OSHA adopted a change in the requirements for recordkeeping. Currently, most employers are required to record workplace injuries and illnesses on the employer's own on-site OSHA Injury and Illness Forms - the OSHA 300 Log and OSHA 301 Incident Reports. Starting January 1, 2017, certain employers will need to submit injury and illness data electronically. Specifically, large employers (more than 250 employees) and smaller employers (20-249 employees) in certain industries with high rates of injuries, are covered by the new rule. As OSHA stated in its factsheet: "Analysis of this data will enable OSHA to use its enforcement and compliance resources more efficiently."

OSHA also intends to make some of this data available on the OSHA website, www.osha.gov.   The thinking is that by making the injury and illness data publicly available, employers will be able to compare themselves not just to their industry generically, but specifically to others in their industry. "Releasing the data in standard, open formats will... Encourage employers to increase their efforts to prevent worker injuries and illnesses, and, compelled by their competitive spirit, to race to the top in terms of worker safety...." OSHA is also taking advantage of changes in understanding of human behavior. The Administration explains: "Behavioral economics tell us that making injury information publicly available will 'nudge' employers to focus on safety." The rule will also allow researchers to review the data in ways that may help employers make their workplaces safer.

A second part of the new rule prohibits employers from discouraging employees from reporting workplace injuries and illnesses. Among other things, the rule requires employers to inform employees of their right to report injuries and illness "free from retaliation;" clarifies the employer's obligation to have a simple reporting system; and reiterates the statutory prohibition on retaliation. While this aspect of the regulations is effective August 10, 2016, enforcement of these provisions has been extended to November 1, 2016, to allow OSHA to engage in outreach.

Click here for a copy of the final rule. 

If you have any questions, please contact Pamela Elkow at (203) 252-2672 or pelkow@carmodylaw.com or any member of our Labor and Employment or Environmental Practice Groups.