The new OSHA rule you need to know

In case you missed it, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a new rule that many employers will need to follow beginning January 1, 2017. Just published May 12th, the final rule expands obligations for electronic record keeping related to injuries and illnesses and also requires that much of the data be made public. OSHA explains: “The proposal does not add any new requirement to keep records; it only modifies an employer’s obligation to transmit these records to OSHA.”

Here’s who is impacted:

  • Any business with 250 or more employees that is already required to record onsite OSHA Injury and Illness forms.
  • Any business in a high-risk industry, such as agriculture, forestry, construction or manufacturing with 20 – 249 employees.

Deadlines for electronic submission:

  • July 1, 2017, for 2016 injuries and illnesses.
  • July 1, 2018, for 2017 data.
  • Beginning 2019, the target date shifts to March 2nd.

There is also a provision that goes into effect on August 1st of this year expressly barring employers from retaliating against employees who report an injury or illness, while also mandating that reporting procedures be “reasonable” so as not to deter or discourage reporting.

According to OSHA, electronic submission will allow for better data analysis, which it believes will improve the efficient use of enforcement, compliance and assistance resources. Some of the information, including employer-, location- and incident-specific injury data, will be posted on the OSHA website, a change in procedure that has been challenged by some businesses. However, David Michaels, assistant secretary of Labor for OSHA, defended the move, saying, “Since high injury rates are a sign of poor management, no employer wants to be seen publicly as operating a dangerous workplace. Our new reporting requirements will ‘nudge’ employers to prevent worker injuries and illnesses to demonstrate to investors, job seekers, customers and the public that they operate safe and well-managed facilities.”

The Coalition for Workplace Safety disagrees and issued a statement sharing its concern “about the damage that could come from the disclosure of sensitive and proprietary information — which companies go to great lengths to protect.” The coalition is also apprehensive of the impact non-safety related incidents, such as bee stings, slips and falls not connected to the job, or even heart attacks, might have on the perceptions of a company’s safety culture.

Whether you appreciate the intent of the new ruling or bristle at the addition of another regulation, it’s a new requirement that MJ wanted to make you aware of as the compliance deadline approaches. If you’d like more information and details, you can visit this link on the OSHA website or read the final rule in its entirety. As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at