OSHA Rules on Electronic Record Keeping: UPDATE
If no new future extensions occur, one of OSHA major rules for electronic record keeping will be changing on December 1st of 2017. This rule applies to organizations or establishments that have 250 or more employees that are required to submit & keep OSHA injury & illness records. Such establishments and employees would, after the 1st of December, be required to submit these OSHA forms electronically.
Overall, employers that already have to submit injury and illness information, will now have their information transmitted over to the agency in a more secure manner. In order for this switch to make sense, OSHA has built a secure website to hold and register all the injury submissions.
Establishments that find themselves in industries with a high rate of injury, they will have to submit some info from their 300A records in they have between 20 to 249 employees in total. OSHA new, secure “Injury Tracking Application” allows you to enter your injury data either manually or with batch data transmission or through the use of automated recordkeeping systems.
However, OSHA has also reinforced other provisions in their reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses. Preexisting rules that say employers cannot retaliate against employees are reinforced. For instance, all employees have the right to raise safety and health questions with their employer without having the fear of being retaliated against. This includes employees being able to request an OSHA inspection of the workplace if the employee believes that the workplace itself is of “unsafe or unhealthy conditions.” This employee right also extends to an employee’s ability (and right) to participate in any OSHA health and safety inspections of the facility and their right to speak privately with the inspector. If the employee does face retaliation from his or her employer after reporting a potential violation, the employee can file a complaint against their employer to OSHA within 30 days of the offense, in order to protect themselves.
In addition to this, employers must prominently display OSHA’s “It’s the Law” poster (Found here). Additionally, if the employer is found to have any OSHA citations, they must place said citations “at or near the place of the alleged violations.” Employers may not create any program that could potentially incentivize employees covering up or hiding a workplace injury.
In general, these new rules are being implemented for three major reasons. 1. To have a permanent electronic record of each incident that occurs in these high-risk manufacturing and construction environments. Thus, OSHA will be able to examine injury and illness data more efficiently. This will improve OSHA’s ability to avoid health and injury risks in the future across a variety of industries and sectors. 2. The new rule requires employers to re-inform employees of their right to be able to report their workplace injuries and illnesses. 3. Employers must reinforce employee knowledge of their right to a safe work environment as well as their right to raise a safety or health concern with their employer of hazards, without being retaliated against.
Overall, the new set of OSHA guidelines are set to allow employees to submit any injury or illness that occurs in the workplace to a safe and secure portal that is sent directly to OSHA for their records. Ultimately, this will allow OSHA to more easily compile data on a wide range of industries in order to better predict future workplace injuries and spot trends in the data before they can get worse. These trends and statistics will then be applied to different sectors in order to provide the most safe work environment for all people.