Why OSHA is Making Us All Go Electronic In 2017
What is Electronic Reporting?
Once, not so long ago, companies reported safety hazards, safety-related fatalities, and workplace illnesses by filling out forms and mailing or faxing these forms to the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA). Filling out forms manually takes time, and response time is slowed due to this tedious process.
Thanks to technology, reports can now be filled out and sent electronically. This means workers or supervisors can fill out accident, fatality, or injury reports at the scene using a handheld device and send it directly to OSHA in real-time.
How has Electronic Reporting Helped Companies Stay Compliant?
New OSHA regulations implemented in January 2015 state that workplace fatalities had to be reported within eight hours and serious injury must be reported to OSHA within twenty-four hours.
Electronic reporting has shortened both the reporting and response times. As a result of electronic reporting, all stakeholders are informed the minute an incident occurs. Hospitals and institutions have decreased response time and increased patient saves. Additionally, businesses are able to correct a hazard before more injuries have occurred.
With electronic data, OSHA and other safety groups have been able to identify types and locations of workplace safety hazards and how to avoid them.
Why Has OSHA Implemented New Regulations?
OSHA 300 is intended to increase workplace safety for workers across the USA. 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.
A new rule takes effect Jan. 1, 2017. In addition to regulations referred to as OSHA 300, this proposed 2017 rule requires employers of specific industries to submit data on fatalities, injuries, and illness that until 2017 had been part of the OSHA 300 log. This data submitted electronically means that OSHA and other stakeholders will be privy to even more data in real time. Through data analysis, OSHA plans to enforce reporting and compliance. The organization also hopes to utilize resources for improvement of worker health and safety more efficiently.
Data will be posted to the OSHA website in an effort to increase public disclosure. This information will serve as an incentive for employers to improve workplace health and safety for its employees. The data also provides vital information to workers, prospective employees, clients, health and safety research institutes and the community. What is submitted will vary with the type and size of the industry.
Advantages of Electronic Reporting
Electronic reporting significantly improves response time. Rapid response time may well save lives of employees now and in the future by eliminating or correcting a hazardous situation. If unresolved, unsafe conditions could continue to result in death, injury or illness.
The time saved by electronic reporting is important for safety reasons. Slow response times can mean financial penalties. These can be reflected in lawsuits, higher insurance costs, employee lost-work days, penalties for health and safety violations, OSHA inspections, lower safety ratings for the business, and unwillingness of your work force to stay with your enterprise. Electronic reporting has many benefits, and will soon be the only way of reporting. Stay ahead of the competition by beginning to implement an electronic reporting program today an get proactive when it comes to employee safety.