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OSHA Electronic Record-Keeping Submission Due Dec 1st

October 02 - Posted at 9:00 AM Tagged: , , , , , ,
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has implemented a change to its record keeping rule that now requires certain employers to electronically submit 2016 injury and illness data to the agency as of December 1, 2017. 

The injury and illness reports that employers are required to submit electronically are already recorded on forms that employers keep onsite at their workplace. OSHA feels this change will help to improve the safety for workers across the country by making injury information publicly available. 

Who Must Comply: Employers who are required to comply are establishments with 250 or more employees as well as those with 20-249 employees who fall into certain industries that have historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses. 

What Are Employers Required to Submit:
  • Employers with 250 or more employees must electronically submit information from OSHA Forms 300 (Log of Work Related Injuries & Illnesses), 300A (Summary or Work Related Injuries & Illnesses), and 301 (Injury & Illness Incident Report).
  • Employers with 20-249 employees in the required industries must electronically submit the Form 300A.

OSHA has provided a secure website that offers 3 options for data submission:
  1. Users can manually enter data into their webform
  2. Users can upload a CVS file to process single or multiple establishments at the same time
  3. Users of automated recordkeeping systems can transmit data electronically via API (application programming interface)

The Injury Tracking Application (ITA) is accessible from their launch page where employers are able to provide OSHA with their 2016 Form 300A information. 

The new reporting requirements will be phased in over 2 years. OSHA extended the 2017 compliance date for 2016 data submission to December 1, 2017.  The data  deadline for 2017 information submission is July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2nd.

OSHA Electronic Reporting Requirements Required by July 1, 2017

May 12 - Posted at 2:00 PM Tagged: , , , , , ,

Why is OSHA issuing this rule?

This simple change in OSHA’s rulemaking requirements will improve safety for workers across the country. One important reason stems from our understanding of human behavior and motivation. Behavioral economics tells us that making injury information publicly available will “nudge” employers to focus on safety. And, as we have seen in many examples, more attention to safety will save the lives and limbs of many workers, and will ultimately help the employer’s bottom line as well. Finally, this regulation will improve the accuracy of this data by ensuring that workers will not fear retaliation for reporting injuries or illnesses.

What does the rule require?

The new rule, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2017, requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data that they are already required to record on their onsite OSHA Injury and Illness forms. Analysis of this data will enable OSHA to use its enforcement and compliance assistance resources more efficiently. Some of the data will also be posted to the OSHA website. OSHA believes that public disclosure will encourage employers to improve workplace safety and provide valuable information to workers, job seekers, customers, researchers and the general public. The amount of data submitted will vary depending on the size of company and type of industry. The electronic submission requirements do not change an employer’s obligation to complete and retain the injury & illness records.

How will electronic submission work?

OSHA will provide a secure website that offers three options for data submission. First, users will be able to manually enter data into a webform. Second, users will be able to upload a CSV file to process single or multiple establishments at the same time. Last, users of automated recordkeeping systems will have the ability to transmit data electronically via an API (application programming interface). OSHA is not yet accepting electronic submissions at this time. Updates will be posted to the OSHA website at when they are available.

Anti-retaliation protections

The rule also prohibits employers from discouraging workers from reporting an injury or illness. The final rule requires employers to inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation, which can be satisfied by posting the already-required OSHA workplace poster. It also clarifies the existing implicit requirement that an employer’s procedure for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses must be reasonable and not deter or discourage employees from reporting; and incorporates the existing statutory prohibition on retaliating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses. These provisions become effective August 10, 2016, but OSHA has delayed their enforcement until Dec. 1, 2016.

Compliance schedule

The new reporting requirements will be phased in over two years:

  • Establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017. These same employers will be required to submit information from all 2017 forms (300A, 300, and 301) by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.

  • Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk industries must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017, and their 2017 Form 300A by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.

OSHA State Plan states must adopt requirements that are substantially identical to the requirements in this final rule within 6 months after publication of this final rule.

Do You Really Know How To Manage An OSHA Inspection?

March 18 - Posted at 2:00 PM Tagged: , , , , ,

Many articles on handling OSHA inspections provide the same basic guidelines and little explanation of why employers should take certain steps. You may already know to take photos whenever the Compliance Officer (CO) takes shots and to take notes. But do you know why to take those photos and what to look for? What do you need to note in order to challenge citations when they are issued six months later?

Plan In Advance
Every company site should have a number of managers who know the basic steps to take whenever any government investigator shows up. The most important step is for site managers to know whom to call to obtain guidance. No executive or in-house counsel will be pleased to learn of an investigation upon receipt of a citation.

At most, site management can deal with evacuating and protecting employees, and dealing with first responders. The company needs a system in place so that with one call the site manager activates corporate support, including legal and risk management guidance, assistance to employees and families, and media management. Set up this system and practice response. Do not assume that you will never face a fatality or catastrophe. Tornadoes, vehicular accidents, and workplace violence can strike any employer.

Make sure that management takes an OSHA inspection seriously. Many employers are unprepared for the aggressive approach now dictated by the current administration. OSHA is a great organization, but even seemingly minor-sounding citations can harm the business. In some industries, a single citation classified as “serious” can harm bidding opportunities. Most of the recent six figure citations have involved repeat violations of routine items such as a missing electric cabinet switch label, a damaged extension cord, partially blocked electric cabinet, or one employee who missed his annual training.

Each violation can serve as the basis for a repeat violation of up to $70,000 per item at ANY company location in any Fed-OSHA state for five years. No inspection is minor. And by the way, OSHA’s improved IT system will allow the agency to better track your corporation’s performance, even when the company operates under many names.

Manage The Inspection
Step one is to ask “why” OSHA is present. Many inspections are triggered by a complaint and OSHA must tell you the reasons. As of this January 2015, employers in Fed-OSHA states must report to OSHA every hospitalization for more than observation, as well as all amputations. An amputation can be as modest as a tip of a finger. These focused responses increase the probability of an OSHA visit.

In each of these circumstances, admit OSHA for the purpose of the complaint and limit the inspection to the scope of the complaint. OSHA will broaden the inspection if the officials observe hazards or if employees mention other hazards. But require OSHA to justify expanding the scope. Be courteous and professional with the Compliance Officer but know and exercise your rights. Always focus first on safety, but that attitude does not preclude making OSHA live by its own procedures.

Recognize that OSHA must establish: 1) an applicable standard; 2) a hazard; 3) employee exposure; and 4) that the employer knew of the violation or hazard, or should have known of it with the exercise of “reasonable diligence.” Make sure that a hazard exists. Measure fall distances, check guards, etc. The burden is on OSHA to prove these four elements, so check to see if OSHA can prove that any employees were exposed in the last six months or would reasonably be expected to be exposed in the normal course of business. Is the area isolated? Do employees work near the alleged hazard? How often do employees travel in that area? How long was the hazard present?

OSHA may not document the employer’s “knowledge” of a violation. Any supervising employee’s knowledge of a violation is “imputed” to the company, and even when OSHA cannot prove that a supervising employee knew of the issue, they can establish this element by showing that the employer should have known of the violation with the “exercise of reasonable diligence.”

So OSHA must prove that the employer didn’t enforce safety rules, training was inadequate or the employer made little effort to provide oversight. Show that the company did exercise this due diligence. Other important questions include how long a violation was present, when supervisory employees were last in the area, and whether the employer did any walk-arounds or inspections.

Take Your Time
Don’t be rushed and bullied about documents. Some documents such as OSHA Form 300s and MSDSs must be promptly provided, but you have the right to a reasonable amount of time to provide other materials. Review them. Consider if materials may be privileged or protected work product. Don’t volunteer self-audits, insurance and consultant reports or other similar materials without talking to counsel.

If documentation is weak, try to determine where on-the-job instruction occurred or where oral instructions were provided. Counsel may be able to use such information as defenses, to reduce the classification, or to build good will. Obtain legal guidance: remember that if you knew of a standard’s requirement and did not follow it, there is a possibility that OSHA might assert a “willful” classification.

In developing defenses dig, dig, dig. There are always more facts. Don’t delegate. Ask the questions yourself.

Exercise your right to sit in on or have counsel attend interviews of any employee who supervises employees because they can bind the company. If a fatality, project delay, or any ancillary legal matter is involved, explain to OSHA that an additional concern is with protecting the company in other legal arenas.

You have an absolute right to sit in with managers but you might as well show courtesy to the Compliance Officer. This is probably a time to involve outside counsel. You may also want to contact counsel about whether OSHA will define an employee as a supervisor. OSHA uses a broader definition than the NLRB, or the wage-hour division.

OSHA has the right to interview hourly employees in private, but you can briefly explain to the employees the reason that they are being interviewed, and that you appreciate their cooperation and to tell the truth. Sometimes it is okay to tell them the topics OSHA may discuss and that may allow a bit of briefing, but mainly encourage them to tell the truth. Ensure that employees know that you appreciate their cooperation with OSHA. OSHA is very sensitive to even a whiff of intimidation or threat of retaliation.

Multiemployer worksites present special challenges. When more than one employer is on site, OSHA can cite the employee’s employer (the “exposing employer”) and the “supervising” employer who was directing the work (such as at construction sites or for contingent workers) or the “creating” employer who generated the hazard, or the “correcting” employer who was responsible to address the hazard, or all of the above!

Unfortunately, it often seems that one employer on site will try to persuade OSHA of questionable facts and throw other employers under the proverbial bus. Be alert.

Push Back
Do go to the OSHA Informal Conference after citations are issued, and do contest all citations if you have reasonable arguments. Remember that OSHA focuses on safety and does not consider whether the Secretary can carry its burdens before a Judge, but their attorneys do recognize this reality. Negotiations may be fruitful, but don’t contest the matter if you have nothing to back up your claims.

So long as you ensure OSHA knows that you will and are addressing any hazards, they will understand that your decision is dictated by business necessity and does not show a disregard for safety.

Finally. Do not miss the contest period! And be aware that many of the “State-OSHA plans” have different appeal processes.

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