January 1 was not only the first day of the New Year, it was also implementation day for many new and updated employment laws. In the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) arena, January 1 marked the beginning of the updated recordkeeping and reporting regulation.
OSHA recently changed its guidelines on who is required to keep certain OSHA records and what must be reported to OSHA, as well as when and how reportable events should be communicated. (States with an OSHA-approved state plan will also have to update their standards to be at least as strict as the federal plan, but they will set their own implementation dates. OSHA has, however, encouraged the states to go with January 1 or earlier.)
OSHA requires most employees to keep injury and illness records throughout the year. This recorded information is used to create the Summary of Injuries and Illnesses Form, which must then be posted from February 1-April 30 of every year. However, there are certain exceptions to this requirement. For example, employers with 10 or fewer employees do not usually need to keep these records. The same can be said for employers in industries listed on the OSHA low-hazard industry list.
With the January 1 regulation change comes an updated list of these low-hazard industries. Some industries were removed from the list while others were added. What this means is that certain employers will now have to start keeping records where before they did not. The opposite is also true: some employers who previously had to keep records will now be exempt from this requirement. Look at the list to see if your industry has been added or removed.
If you have not had to keep these records in the past, but are now required to do so, make sure you know what injuries and illnesses need to be recorded and how to record them.
While not every employer will be affected by the recordkeeping changes, all employers under federal OSHA have to comply with the changes to the reporting requirement.
Here is what needed to be reported under the old regulation:
- Any workplace fatality; and
- Any catastrophe, an event that resulted in the inpatient hospitalization of three or more employees.
Both fatalities and catastrophes had to be reported to OSHA within eight hours of the event or when the employer learned or should have learned of the event.
Under the new rule, reports of a fatality must be reported in the same timeframe. However, the catastrophe requirements are now different.
All employers must report any inpatient hospitalization of an employee, amputation or eye loss within 24 hours.
It is also important to note that a reportable fatality is considered any fatality that occurs within 30 days of the workplace incident. Any hospitalization, amputation or eye loss that occurs within 24 hours of the workplace incident is reportable.
In addition to the changes in what must be reported and when, OSHA is developing a web portal that an employer may use to report these events. When it is created, an employer will have an additional method to report, but may still opt to use a reporting method that was offered before the change, i.e., calling the OSHA hotline or visiting or calling a local OSHA agency.
One last note about the reporting changes: reports are considered a public record. So where before only fatalities and multiple hospitalizations from a single event became part of that record, employers should be aware that a lot more will now be available to the public eye.