OSHA Launches Electronic Injury and Illness Reporting System

On Aug. 1, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) launched its application
to electronically submit injury and illness data—but covered employers won’t be required to use the system
until later this year.

It’s important for employers to note that they don’t have to
submit anything through the electronic application on Aug. 1, said Ben Huggett,
an attorney with Littler in Philadelphia. That’s just the date it
became publicly available.

OSHA initially wanted certain employers to submit electronic
data by July 1, but the portal wasn’t made available to employers. The agency
announced last month that it planned to postpone electronic reporting to Dec.
1.

For now, employers should just take a look at the electronic
application and figure out how they will submit the information, said Eric
Hobbs, an attorney with Ogletree Deakins in Milwaukee.

Patrick Miller, an attorney with Sherman & Howard in
Denver, told SHRM Online that it was no surprise when OSHA
moved to postpone the effective date. The extension was meant to give the agency time to get its
Injury Tracking Application (ITA) up and running and to allow the Trump
administration more time to evaluate the rule, he said.

Miller said employers should take time to figure out if they
are covered
by the electronic record-keeping rule. The
Dec. 1 start date applies to establishments that are covered by OSHA’s
record-keeping regulations and have 250 or more employees, as well as covered
establishments with 20-249 employees in certain hazardous industries.

Huggett noted that the employer size is determined by the
worksite, not the total size of the business across locations. 

Form
300A

For Dec. 1, covered employers are required to electronically
submit injury and illness data from their 2016 Form 300A—which is a summary of
workplace injuries and illnesses. Employers must already record this
information and post it in the workplace from Feb. 1 until Apr. 30 of each
year.

Eventually, large employers will have to electronically
submit data from Form 300 (the injury and illness log) and Form 301 (incident
reports for each injury or illness) as well.

OSHA explained that the data submission process will involve
four steps:

  • Creating an establishment within the ITA.
  • Adding 300A summary data.
  • Submitting data to OSHA.
  • Reviewing the confirmation e-mail.

The website will offer three options for data submission.
Employers can:

  • Manually enter data into a web form.
  • Upload a file for a single establishment or for multiple establishments at once.
  • Transmit data electronically through an application programming interface—if the employer uses an automated record-keeping system.

“Employers should be prepared to become familiar with
the ITA before their particular deadlines come due,” Miller said.

Public
Information

The electronic record-keeping rule is
controversial—particularly because some of the data might be made available to
the public on the agency’s website. OSHA has
said it will “remove all
personally identifiable information associated with the data before it is
publicly accessible.”

Obama administration-era OSHA officials said that
“making injury information publicly available will ‘nudge’ employers to
focus on safety.” But opponents claim that public disclosure would
unreasonably harm employers.

Employers will likely want to hold off on submitting the
data until their particular deadline arrives. Even if OSHA leaders under the
Trump administration decide not to make the data public—and there’s no
guarantee of that—the information would still be subject to Freedom of Information
Act requests, Huggett noted.

The rule also contains controversial anti-retaliation
provisions—interpretations of the rule that place limitations on safety
incentive programs and drug-testing
policies that might deter workers from
reporting accidents. Those provisions already took effect in December 2016.

It isn’t clear what will happen with the rule between now
and the next compliance deadline. Hobbs said the rule could remain as it is now
with no change in substance or interpretation, or employers may see some
alterations.

Action
Items

Employers should ensure they have all the information needed
for electronic submission, Huggett said. As of Aug. 1, they will be able to
review what the electronic format is going to look like and should consider how
they are going to submit the data.

Businesses should also examine their injury and illness
record-keeping procedures and make sure they are only recording what they have
to, he said, noting that employers sometimes opt to over-record rather than
risk underreporting.

Some injuries—like those requiring basic first aid—aren’t
recordable. However, covered employers must log work-related injuries and
illnesses that involve:

  • Death.
  • Days away from work.
  • Restricted work or job transfer.
  • Medical treatment beyond first aid.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • A significant injury or illness diagnosed by a health care professional.

Over-recording injuries can unintentionally make the
business look bad. If information will be made available to the public, the
average employer isn’t going to want to report more than it has
to, Huggett said.

Here at
Converge HR Solutions, we can handle all of your HR needs. It is important to
stay up to date with new laws, changes, and regulations. With OSHA now allowing
electronic entries, it will speed the entire process up. For more information
on our services, visit our website at https://convergehrsolutions.com/ or email us directly at info@convergehrsolutions.com or give us a call at 610-296-8550.

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