On May 11, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) finalized a recordkeeping and reporting rule to “modernize injury data collection to better inform workers, employers, the public, and OSHA about workplace hazards.”

Currently, OSHA requires employers to keep a record of work-related injuries and illnesses.  Under the new rule, employers will send OSHA injury and illness data that the employers are already collecting for posting on the agency’s website without any personally identifiable information.  Using data collected under the new rule, OSHA will create a public database on work injuries and illnesses.

The new provision becomes effective August 10, 2016, and the new reporting requirements will be phased in over two years.  As of January 1, 2017, all businesses with 250 or more employees in industries currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records must electronically submit information annually from OSHA Forms 300, Log of Work Related Injuries and Illnesses; 300A,Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, and 301, Injury and Illness Incident Report.  Businesses with 20-249 people in high-risk industries must electronically submit OSHA Form 300A annually.

The new provision makes it clear that OSHA will not tolerate retaliation for reporting a work-related injury or illness.  The rule contains three provisions to promote complete and accurate reporting or work-related injuries and illnesses: (1) the employer must inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation, which can be met by posting this poster; (2) employers’ procedures to report work-related injuries and illness must be reasonable and not deter or discourage employees from reporting; and (3) an employer must be not retaliate against employees for reporting their work-related industries.

This new rule may be a sign that OSHA will take on a more aggressive “public watchdog role,” as the agency stated that it intends to make the information publicly available because it believes it will nudge employers to focus on safety.”  See Final Rule Issued to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses.

Employer Takeaways

  1. Inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses
  2. If your business already records work-related injuries and illnesses for OSHA, now is a good time to consider seeking legal advice about whether your reporting procedure is reasonable.