Proposed OSHA Rule Change Could Mean Big Changes For How Some Employers Must Report Injuries

Accident Report

A proposed rule change announced by OSHA November 7 could be the first significant changes to the recordkeeping system since the introduction of the OSHA 300 log in 2001.  If adopted, the proposed rule would be a major change in the way that employer injury data is collected, reviewed by OSHA, and made available to the general public.

Large Employers Could be Required to Report Injury Data to OSHA

Under the proposed rule, any company that is currently required to complete a 300 log and has 250 or more employees would be required to report their injury data electronically to OSHA on a quarterly basis. This proposed reporting requirement is a significant change, as employers are not currently required to report their recordable incident data unless they are asked to do so as part of a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) or state agency data collection effort.

OSHA has indicated the data collected from the employers would be reviewed by OSHA and used to help “refer employers who report high overall injury/incident rates to OSHA’s free on-site consultation program.”

OSHA also has plans to make collected data available to the public as part of President Obama’s Open Government Initiative. OSHA’s hope is that making this information public will assist “potential customers choose to patronize only the businesses in a given industry with the lowest injury/illness rates.”

Changes for Small Businesses

Another proposed change could also affect small employers in “certain designated industries” (OSHA has not said what these industries are or how they will be selected).

If an employer has 20 or more employees at any time during a year and is in one of the “designated industries,” they would be required to report their OSHA recordable data electronically to OSHA on an annual basis. This information would also be used in the same manner as the proposed rule for the larger employers discussed above.

The injury/illness data from BLS and other agencies is often criticized for not being accurate or not being a true reflection of safety performance in some industries.  In addition, many have seen the consultative and partnership tone of the relationship with OSHA and the business community change in the past six years and some fear that this review process could ultimately increase compliance inspections and resulting fines to employers.

What to Do

The proposed rule change is currently in the 90-day comment period and could become permanent as soon as February 6, 2014 (although many times rule changes such as this are delayed due to the amount of response during the comment period). The Willis risk control practice is closely monitoring the proposed changes.  We will publish a guide to assist employers with the new rules once the proposal has been finalized.

About David Barry

David Barry is the national technical director for Casualty Risk Control, where he provides risk control consulting…
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