Changes to OSHA Reporting Standards Employers Should Know
Like many regulatory acts, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) has undergone some major changes over the past several years. Since its formation within the Department of Labor in 1971, OSHA has stood as the United States’ primary guiding force for advancing health and safety in the workplace. That includes setting safety standards, overseeing inspections, and spearheading education and training efforts.
Much of the work OSHA does depends on employers providing timely and accurate reporting of workplace safety issues, injuries, and illnesses. How exactly that reporting is handled is a detailed process that requires close attention from human resources teams. The reporting process has become all the more confusing recently, as the requirements and criteria have changed on at least an annual basis every year since 2016. Since non-compliance can lead to some hefty fines and penalties, it’s worth taking a look at the current status of OSHA reporting standards.
How has OSHA reporting changed recently?
In 2016 the Department of Labor introduced new rules aimed at modernizing the OSHA reporting process by requiring electronic submissions of most reports of workplace injuries and illnesses. The stated goal was to streamline the submission process and gather more comprehensive data that could help prevent workplace safety issues in the future. The Electronic Reporting Rule set varying standards for employers of different sizes and industries. Workplaces with more than 250 employees were required to submit all reports electronically, as were businesses with 20-249 employees in “high-risk” industries.” Employers with fewer than 20 employees were exempt.
Almost as soon as those rules were starting to be enforced, however, they were altered. As part of an overall push toward deregulation, the new administration pushed deadlines for reporting 2016 incidents back several times and suspended the 2017 deadline indefinitely. In January 2019, the Department of Labor rescinded the Electronic Reporting Rule all together, effectively bringing the requirement to an end.
What OSHA injury and illness reports are still required?
With so many changes in such a short time span, many HR professionals are understandably unclear about what needs to be reported to OSHA and how. The elimination of the Electronic Reporting Rule did not impact the kinds of incidents that require reporting, only the means by which businesses are required to submit that information.
OSHA requirements cover most private industry employers and all federal employers in the U.S. state and local public sector are not included in federal OSHA guidelines, but many states have adopted OSHA-approved safety and health programs for public employees. Self-employed workers and those in fields with separate federal oversight standards, such as the mining industry or the Department of Energy, are not bound to OSHA regulations. It is worth noting that OSHA regards an employer as a physical place of business, not an overall organization. In the case of a grocery chain that operates multiple locations, for instance, each location is required to keep and report its own records.
While there are many, many facets to OSHA regulations that vary depending on the industry and type of employer, for the purposes of reporting incidents there are three key forms that most companies should keep in mind: Forms 300, 300A, and 301.
OSHA Form 301 — Injury and Illness Incident Report
Contrary to what the numbering system might suggest, Form 301 is the first form that needs to be completed following a workplace incident. This form includes basic information about the employee who has sustained the injury or illness, such as name, address, and medical contact information. It also requests details about the specific incident, including a description of how the injury occurred, what the employee was doing immediately beforehand, what injuries were sustained, and what object or substance directly harmed the employee. All fields must be completed thoroughly and accurately, and the form must be filed within seven days of the incident.
OSHA Form 300 — Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses
Form 300 is a running log of all OSHA-reportable incidents that occur at a place of employment over the course of a year. Like Form 301, this form requires personal information about the injured employee and details of the incident or injury. Form 300 also includes a classification of the severity of the incident (whether the employee missed days of work, required job restrictions, or died), an accounting of how many days of work the employee missed as a result of the incident, and a categorization of the incident as an injury or a specific kind of illness. Beyond its usefulness in providing crucial data to the Department of Labor, Form 300 can also be an excellent tool for internal recordkeeping.
OSHA Form 300A — Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses
Form 300A is essentially a snapshot of the information contained in Form 300. This form asks for an accounting of the total number of reportable incidents, number of days of work missed, and types of injuries and illnesses accrued within a workplace over the course of a year. This form is required by OSHA rules even if a workplace has had no reportable illnesses or injuries, as this information helps the Department of Labor build a clearer picture of current workplace safety trends.
Despite the frequent shifts in OSHA policies in recent years, the act’s core mission of providing “safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance” remains the same. By maintaining accurate and timely reporting practices, American employers can help the Department of Labor create a safer and more supportive work environment for workers across the country.
To learn more about OSHA regulations, including a point-by-point breakdown of requirements for employers, view our on-demand webinar.View the Recording
About the Author
Bob Greene currently serves as Channels Manager and Sales Trainer at Ascentis. Bob’s 39 years in the human capital management industry have been spent in practitioner, consultant and vendor/partner roles. As practitioner, he managed payroll for a 5,000 person bank in New Jersey. As consultant, he spent 8 years advising customers in HRMS, and payroll and benefits system design as well as acquisition strategies. Bob also built a strategic HCM advisory practice for Xcelicor (now Deloitte Consulting.)
As vendor/partner, he has had prominent roles in sales support, marketing and product management at several companies and currently Ascentis. Bob recently re-joined the Editorial Board of IHRIM’s Workforce Solutions Review journal, as Contributing Editor. His experience also includes two years as Adjunct Lecturer in HRIS at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois. In addition to his 39 years of experience, Bob also holds a BA in English from Rutgers University.