Voice of Experience: OSHA Record-Keeping Requirements
OSHA record-keeping has long been an administrative challenge to businesses required to keep OSHA logs. In this installment of “Voice of Experience,” I’ll cover some changes that have occurred over the years as well as some essentials that all employers and employees must understand in order to maintain compliance with OSHA requirements.
When the change from the OSHA 200 log to electronic record-keeping was made in 2002, it was a relief to many. At that time, all issues involving first aid were resolved; a list of first aid treatments was identified and took any doubt out of the requirement to report medical attention beyond first aid.
The addition of a hearing loss column to OSHA’s Form 300, “Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses,” in 2004 helped identify hearing loss for those businesses covered by OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95(c), “Hearing conservation program.” Previously, hearing loss often was considered an illness rather than an injury.
Today, the number of logs a business must maintain is determined by the number of premises operated by the business. A log is required to be maintained for each location with an address unless there are multiple facilities at the same address. Centralized electronic record-keeping is acceptable if the records can be provided within four business hours upon request by an OSHA officer. The request must be made in the location of the corporate office where records are kept, even when it is in a different time zone.
An injury must be reported to a record-keeper for logging within a maximum of seven days from the time of the accident; this requirement has not changed. The supporting forms required to document the log entry also remain the same. OSHA’s Form 301, “Injury and Illness Incident Report,” or an acceptable state workers’ compensation form must accompany any orders written by a licensed health care provider (LHCP). All documentation must be retained and kept available in case of an audit. The number of days away or restricted days must be recorded and may be capped at 180 days. The current year and the last five years of OSHA 300 logs must be available for audit or inspection upon request by approved officials. OSHA’s Form 300A, “Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses,” must be posted no later than February 1 of the year following the year covered by the form, and it must remain posted in the establishment for 90 days in conspicuous locations that are frequented by employees.
Clearing Up Confusion
There continues to be confusion as to whether or not some calls are recordable. These calls remain a challenge to record-keepers and supporting safety staff. Employers should understand that when a prescription is ordered by an LHCP, but it is not filled or is not taken by the employee, there still is a requirement to record it on the log. An ordered work restriction or days away must be recorded even when the LHCP’s orders are not followed. Non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (e.g., ibuprofen) prescribed in greater-than-recommended dosages also must be recorded. Personal health issues, heart attacks, strokes, and low or high blood sugar issues generally are not recordable unless there is a discernible event that may have prompted the event or condition. Business travel, establishing a home away from home and any injury or illness that occurs while traveling are sometimes reported as OSHA recordables when they may just be a workers’ compensation issue. We must always remember that OSHA reporting requirements and workers’ compensation cases are determined by state codes. All workers’ compensation cases may not be OSHA recordable.
Record-keeping rules changed on January 1, 2015, requiring employers to report injuries to OSHA – including when one employee has been admitted to a hospital for treatment, loss of an eye or amputation – within 24 hours of when the employer was notified of the incident. Before the change, the only time an employer had to notify OSHA of an accident was when a fatality occurred or a catastrophic event resulted in three or more individuals being admitted to a hospital for treatment. Still in effect is the requirement to notify OSHA within eight hours if a fatality has occurred.
Amendments to OSHA 1904 Requirements
On April 29, 2016, David Michaels – then OSHA’s assistant secretary of labor – amended the requirements of 29 CFR 1904, “Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illness,” to include several updated mandates. The changes affect certain businesses and obligate employees and their representatives to have certain involvement in the record-keeping requirements.
Employers must inform each employee of how he or she is to report a work-related injury or illness to his or her employer. Also, employers must provide employees with the information described in paragraph 1904.35(b)(1)(iii). Access must be provided to injury and illness records for employees and their representatives as described in paragraph 1904.35(b)(2). Employers must implement the new procedure by establishing a reasonable method for employees to promptly and accurately report work-related injuries and illnesses. A reasonable method would not deter or discourage a reasonable employee from accurately reporting a workplace injury or illness. OSHA has questioned if employees may fear punitive action if they report injuries and illnesses as work-related workers’ compensation cases. The possibility of injuries or illnesses being handled other than as workers’ compensation cases and not being recorded on OSHA logs was a concern based on employee complaints. Title 11(c) of the original OSH Act of 1970 states that employers can’t act in this manner. However, the record-keeping standard lacked the details and needed clarification, thus resulting in a revision to 1904.36, “Prohibition against discrimination.”
Requirements Based on Number of Employees
Another new requirement is the annual electronic submission of Part 1904 records by establishments with 250 or more employees. Businesses that employ this number of people at any time during the previous calendar year are required to keep records and to then electronically submit information from the three record-keeping forms that the employer keeps under this part – OSHA’s Form 300, 300A and 301 – to OSHA or OSHA’s designee.
Businesses having more than 250 employees must submit the information once a year. July 1, 2017, is the deadline for electronic submission of the 300 log. The new requirement does not necessitate the employee’s name, a copy of the 301, the location of treatment or the doctor’s name. For businesses that have 20 to 249 employees, the 300 log, 301 and 300A must be submitted by July 1, 2018. OSHA will notify businesses by mail if they must submit information as part of an individual data collection under updated requirements. This requirement applies to all federal and state plans. Beginning in 2019, all establishments must submit the required documentation by March 2 of the year after the year covered by the form or forms.
If a business does not fall into either of those two categories, it must submit information from the injury and illness records to OSHA only if OSHA requests additional information from that business.
As before, all employees are covered under this rule. This includes temporary, part-time and contract or leased employees. If training and supervision/work direction are supplied to an employee, he or she is included in the employee count for the year.
A class on proper record-keeping based on OSHA’s 1904 standard takes several hours to complete in order to gain a better understanding of how to manage records. Even after taking a class, there will always be questions about OSHA recordability based on individual circumstances. If you are ever in doubt about a particular situation, call your local compliance officer for clarification.
About the Author: Danny Raines, CUSP, safety consultant, distribution and transmission, retired from Georgia Power after 40 years of service and opened Raines Utility Safety Solutions LLC, providing compliance training, risk assessments and safety observation programs. He is also an affiliate instructor at Georgia Tech Research Center OSHA Outreach in Atlanta. For more information, visit www.electricutilitysafety.com.