Federal OSHA has suspended its much anticipated and dreaded electronic filing rules for workplace injury and illness records.
The rules, put in place during the Obama Administration, would have required organizations with 250 or more employees to submit electronically information 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).
The same rules would also apply to employers with between 20 and 249 employees in certain industries, including agriculture, construction, manufacturing, retail and transportation.
A major thrust of the rules was to name and shame employers with poor workplace safety histories, and the latest move will essentially keep these records from being published.
The requirement was to be phased in over two years. This year, all covered establishments had until July 1 to turn in their 2016 forms in electronically, but OSHA never launched the website for companies to submit the information.
The employer community, particularly the construction industry, had heavily lobbied the Trump Administration to jettison the new rules, saying that if injury records were publicized they could unfairly hurt the reputation of employers.
The new rules were supposed to be an extension of an OSHA requirement between 1995 and 2012 that required some 180,000 establishments in high-hazard industries to submit their 300A forms by mail. The program lapsed in anticipation of the now extinguished new rules.
Then in May, OSHA wrote on its website that it “is not accepting electronic submissions of injury and illness logs at this time, and intends to propose extending the July 1, 2017 date by which certain employers are required to submit the information.”
As a result, the existing rules for the forms remain in place – and particularly that employers post Form 300A in a conspicuous place in the workplace every year starting Feb. 1 for two months.
While employers are not required to send their completed forms to OSHA, they must retain the forms at their establishments for five years after the reference year of the records.
Compliance with existing rules
Even if you are not focused on qualifying for either of these exemptions, there are still other important things to remember about posting your 300A.
- If you are required to post a 300A, you need to do so whether or not you had any injuries in the past year. It is completely appropriate – and required for covered businesses – to post a 300A saying that you had no injuries or illnesses.
- Sign the 300A when you post it. That is required, and something businesses often forget to do.
- Post the 300A in an accessible location where employees can easily see it, and keep it posted until April 30.
- Be sure to post the 300A, and not the 300. Not only is this problematic because it is the incorrect form, but the 300 contains employee names, so making it public can result in privacy violations.
- You do not need to post the official 300A form from OSHA’s website; it is acceptable to post your own, homemade form containing equivalent information if you would prefer to do so.