On May 11, 2016, OSHA issued a final rule requiring electronic reporting of illnesses and injuries. The new rules apply to establishments with 250 or more employees. The rules require electronic submission of the 2016 OSHA form 300A summary report by July 1, 2017, and the 2017 300 log, 300A summary and 301 incident report for 2017 by July 1, 2018. In each subsequent year, all reports for every establishment must be submitted by March 2 of the following year. The new rules also require employers in high-risk industries (construction, manufacturing, furniture stores, waste collection and nursing care facilities) with 20-249 employees to electronically submit their 300A summary. OSHA has stated that no exceptions will be granted to employers who file the required reports in paper format. The information electronically submitted by employers will then be posted on OSHA’s website. OSHA has stated that it will post establishment-specific data but not post any data that would identify any employee. However, in major injury incidents (especially those where there is publicity), it would not be difficult to determine the identity of the employee(s).

OSHA has stated that it believes that publishing the data will encourage safer workplaces. In addition, OSHA has said that it intends to use the data to determine the employers and industries on which to focus its enforcement efforts.

This is a major change from the current injury and illness recording requirements. Presently, employers are required to maintain the 300 logs, 301 incident reports and 300A annual summary and to post the 300A summary in the workplace each year. There is no requirement to submit the records to OSHA. Generally, OSHA only reviews them in the event of an onsite inspection. The only current obligation to report to OSHA is the requirement to report fatalities, amputations, hospitalizations or the loss of an eye.

In addition, by Aug. 10, 2016, employers must establish safety policies that establish “reasonable procedures” for reporting workplace illnesses and injuries promptly and accurately. OSHA has stated that it intends to focus on employer safety incentive programs, which OSHA believes discourage reporting illnesses and injuries. Once these procedures are established, employers must inform employees about the right to report workplace injuries and illnesses and that the company is prohibited from discharging or in any manner discriminating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses. The rules permit OSHA to take enforcement action against an employer for retaliation in response to an employee reporting an injury or illness—even if the employee does not file a complaint.

To prepare for the new OSHA obligations employers should:

  1. Determine which establishments will be covered by the new rules;
  2. Review their reporting mechanisms to ensure they are formatted for electronic reporting;
  3. Determine whether their current injury and illness reporting mechanisms or policies are in compliance with the new rule and make any necessary revisions before Aug. 10, 2016;
  4. Review their safety incentive programs against OSHA’s concerns that they may discourage reporting injuries;
  5. Train employees and managers on the injury and illness reporting mechanisms or policies before Aug. 10, 2016; and
  6. Train managers on the importance of not taking adverse action against any employee who has reported an injury or illness without involving legal counsel or human resources.