The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was formed by Congress following the enactment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) of 1970 for the purpose of ensuring safe and healthful working conditions. In fulfilling its purpose, OSHA has detailed standards, rules, and regulations, for covered employers, including specific requirements for injury and illness record-keeping and reporting, in order for employers to provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards for their employees.
The OSH Act covers most private sector employers, regardless of the industry or the number of employees. Most employers with at least ten employees, minus certain low-risk industries which may be exempted, have a duty to comply with the injury and illness record-keeping and reporting requirements. Employers who have ten or less employees in their whole organization, and specific business establishments which are classified within certain North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes, are partially exempt from OSHA coverage and are not required to keep OSHA injury and illness records unless they have been informed otherwise in writing by OSHA, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), or a state agency. Of course, even organizations that are exempt from record-keeping requirements must still report any employee fatality within eight-hours, and any amputation, loss of an eye, or hospitalization of an employee within 24-hours.
So, how does OSHA define a recordable injury or illness for those employers who have record-keeping and reporting responsibilities? According to the OSHA website, a recordable injury or illness is any work-related fatality, any work-related injury or illness that results in loss of consciousness, days away from work, restricted work, or transfer to another job, any work-related injury or illness that requires medical treatment beyond first aid, or is a diagnosed case of cancer, chronic irreversible diseases, fractured or cracked bones or teeth, and punctured eardrums. There are also special record-keeping requirements for work-related injuries or illnesses involving such concerns as needlesticks and sharps, hearing loss, or tuberculosis. OSHA provides the following defining characteristics of first aid to help employers evaluate whether an injury or illness needs to be recorded:
- Using a non-prescription medication at non-prescription strength
- Receiving a tetanus immunization
- Cleaning, flushing or soaking wounds on the surface of the skin
- Using wound coverings such as bandages, gauze pads, butterfly bandages, etc.
- Using hot or cold therapy
- Using any non-rigid means of support, such as elastic bandages, wraps, non-rigid back belts, etc.
- Using temporary immobilization devices while transporting an accident victim
- Drilling of a fingernail or toenail to relieve pressure, or draining fluid from a blister
- Using eye patches
- Removing foreign bodies from the eye using only irrigation or a cotton swab
- Removing splinters or foreign material from areas other than the eye by irrigation, tweezers, cotton swabs, or other simple means
- Using massages
- Drinking fluids for relief of heat stress
In order to comply with record-keeping requirements, employers must complete the following three forms, or documents:
- OSHA Form 300 “Log of Work-Related Illnesses and Injuries” – This is a document for employers to record all reportable injuries and illnesses that occur in the workplace, where and when they occur, the nature of the case, the name and job title of the applicable employee, and the number of days away from work, or on restricted or light duty, if any.
- OSHA Form 300–A “Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses” – At the end of each calendar year, Form 300-A must be completed. This must be certified by an organizational executive as correct by March 2nd of each year, and posted in the workplace where notices to workers are usually posted, even if there were no recordable injuries or illnesses to report. Employers should note that electronic “posting” or distribution of this form does not meet the posting requirement. OSHA has an Injury Tracking Application (ITA) which allows organizations to report injury and illness records to the OSHA. The ITA must be used if an employer has 250 or more employees and are required to keep OSHA injury and illness records, or if they have 20+ employees classified in specific industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and/or illnesses.
- OSHA Form 301 “Injury and Illness Incident Report” – This report form must be completed within seven-days after the employer receives information that a recordable work-related injury or illness has occurred. It provides spaces for the details of the injury or illness, how and when it happened, and the treatment that was provided.
Employers may note that they do not have to use the OSHA-created forms. However, an equivalent form, whether printed or through a workforce management technology or software program must have the same information, be equally readable and understandable, and be completed using the same instructions as the OHSA forms use.
These three record-keeping forms, or equivalent forms, help both the employer and OSHA develop a picture of the extent and severity of work-related incidents. As such, OSHA records must be maintained at each worksite for at least five-years. Also, if requested, copies of the records must be provided to current and former employees, or their representatives.
As stated earlier, all employers must report any work-related fatality of an employee within eight-hours, and any amputation, loss of an eye, or hospitalization of an employee within 24-hours, even if the employer is exempt from record-keeping due to an organization’s size or industry. However, employers do not have to report an event if it resulted from a vehicle accident on a public street or highway (except in a construction work zone), occurred on a commercial or public transportation system, or involved hospitalization for diagnostic testing or observation only. Employers should call the nearest OSHA office, use the OSHA 24-hour hotline (1-800-321-6742), or report it online at https://www.osha.gov/ords/ser/serform.html.
Finally, it’s important for employers to understand that their state may operate their own occupational safety and health programs for private sector and/or state and local government workers. Record-keeping and reporting requirements may vary by state, although all states must have or be in the process of developing requirements that are at least as effective as OSHA’s.
Employers are encouraged to take the time to ascertain which OSHA record-keeping and reporting requirements apply to their organization and then thoroughly review their organization’s safety policies and procedures as well as their current record-keeping and reporting practices to ensure they are meeting the requirements as determined by OSHA.
For additional information about OSHA record-keeping and reporting requirements, please contact us at www.newfocushr.com .
Written by: Kathi Walker, SHRM-SCP, PHR
Sr. HR Consultant
Source: United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration (www.osha.gov)