Several weeks ago, I expressed skepticism that OSHA’s new electronic recordkeeping website would be up and ready, as promised, by August 1, since they were already five months behind schedule. As we all know, the federal government’s past record in putting together websites (remember HealthCare.gov?) has been less than stellar.
Alas, it appears that the electronic recordkeeping is ready for business, or at least partially so. Employers can now submit their OSHA 300A forms for 2016. Any establishment with 250 or more employees that is required to keep OSHA injury and illness records—as well establishments with between 19 and 250 employees in certain designated industries—must file this form before the new December 1, 2017 deadline.
It’s probably a good thing that the new recordkeeping requirements will be phased in over two years and that OSHA is beginning with the simplest form. I would expect that most large employers—who covered by the regulation—will want to be able to upload information from CSV files or from automated record keeping systems when submitting OSHA 300 and 301 forms, rather than inputting information manually. Here, many Health and Safety Managers may want to talk to their internal IT experts who know what a CSV (comma separated value) file actually is. (I didn’t until I started reading the instructions).
For now, OSHA 300 and 301 forms will not need to be filed until next July, and that deadline could be further delayed if OSHA does not update the website to include those forms well in advance of the filing deadline. Additional delays—or all out changes to these requirements—could result from the ongoing litigation challenging these rules or reconsideration. While one court refused to issue an injunction against the rule (unlike in some other challenges to Obama-era regulations), that same Court recently administratively closed the case at the request of the Government, who cited these delays in compliance dates, along with the fact that “OSHA . . . intends to issue a separate proposal to reconsider, revise, or remove other provisions from the final rule.” While we are all watching to see what comes of these rules, thankfully employers can meet their obligations by filling out the 300A form, a process which should only take a few minutes. However, employers should consider waiting until close to the deadline to file, given all that remains to be determined.