As most employers are well aware, OSHA stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In general, OSHA regulations require that employers maintain a workplace that is free of recognized safety hazards, and do not discriminate or retaliate against anyone who reports injuries or illnesses. Are those in charge of safety at your company well-trained in recordkeeping and reporting requirements?
There are many facets to OSHA, including specific safety regulations for various industries, safety planning, illness and injury recordkeeping, incident reporting, and more. Let’s take a look at OSHA’s recordkeeping and reporting requirements.
What Recordkeeping Does OSHA Require of Employers?
Let’s start by delineating which employers must participate in OSHA’s full recordkeeping requirements. In general, a company will be subject to these requirements if it has more than 10 employees and are in an industry that is subject to such recordkeeping. The industries that are (partially) excluded—typically low-hazard workplaces such as retail environments—are predefined; for more information on partially exempt industries, refer to this document: https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping2014/OSHA3744.pdf.
(Bear in mind: Employers with fewer than 10 employees are generally exempt from recordkeeping requirements regardless of industry. But any employer, regardless of industry or number of employees, will be subject to the reporting requirements identified in the next section.)
Outlined below are the general recordkeeping requirements that are not industry-specific. Be sure to check the full OSHA guidelines to see what other records you may be required to keep based on your industry and location. (Note: There are also state-level workplace safety laws.)
In general, the main types of recordkeeping that OSHA mandates are all records of work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths—as well as the actions taken by the employer to stay in OSHA compliance and avoid such occurrences or recurrences. Here are the forms involved:
- Form 300—Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses
- Instructions (found directly on the form): “You must record information about every work-related death and about every work-related injury or illness that involves loss of consciousness, restricted work activity or job transfer, days away from work, or medical treatment beyond first aid. You must also record significant work-related injuries and illnesses that are diagnosed by a physician or licensed health care professional. You must also record work-related injuries and illnesses that meet any of the specific recording criteria listed in 29 CFR Part 1904.8 through 1904.12. Feel free to use two lines for a single case if you need to. You must complete an Injury and Illness Incident Report (OSHA Form 301) or equivalent form for each injury or illness recorded on this form. If you’re not sure whether a case is recordable, call your local OSHA office for help.”
- Form 300A—Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. Use Form 300 to complete 300A. Employees should have access to Form 300A—it should be posted from February 1 to April 30 every year and copies should be available on request.
- Form 301—Injury and Illness Incident Report. This is the complete form to be filled out for each individual recordable incident in Form 300. It must be completed within 7 days of learning of a recordable workplace injury or illness.
What Must Be Reported to OSHA?
Separate from keeping ongoing records of injuries, illnesses, and deaths, there are also incidents that must be reported directly to OSHA at the time of occurrence—no matter the size or industry of the company.
The employer must always report serious injuries within 24 hours of learning of the incident. This includes:
- Any incident that results in the hospitalization of an employee. Some notes on this item:
- This regulation was updated in 2015; previously, the reporting requirement did not kick in unless there were three or more employees hospitalized.
- Hospitalization means formal admission to inpatient care, not just a hospital visit.
- There is an exception to this rule: If an employee is hospitalized only for observation or diagnostic testing, this does not trigger the requirement to report it.
- This regulation also includes hospitalizations from heart attacks, if the heart attack was the result of a work-related incident.
- Any work-related amputation, including partial amputations, medical amputations resulting from extreme injury, and amputations that have been reattached.
- Any work-related loss of an eye.
These types of injuries must also be reported if they occur within 24 hours of a work-related incident (as opposed to occurring immediately during the incident).
Any work-related death must also be reported to OSHA within 8 hours of the employer learning of the death. This also includes deaths that occur within 30 days of a work-related incident.
Employers can report these occurrences to OSHA by calling OSHA directly, either at its 800 number (1-800-321-OSHA / 1-800-321-6742) or at its local office. OSHA’s website advises that it will soon be adding an online reporting option as well.