There has been a lot of talk about the final rule on OSHA’s electronic record submission requirements in recent weeks, but what does this mean for you and your organization? If a company violates the new requirements it could bring penalties of up to $7,000 for the first offense. If the violation continues to occur, a company could be looking at penalties in the hundred thousands. In preparation for the rule changes beginning next year, here is everything you need to know about OSHA’s finalized rule on electronic reporting.
Who should be concerned
First, it’s important to understand who this rule applies to. Any establishments with 250 or more employees or any establishment with 20-249 employees in certain industries with historically high rates of injuries (see list below) will be required to submit data electronically.
What does it mean
Now, what does this rule do? Essentially this rule requires that employers electronically submit the injury and illness data that they were already required to record. This could cause a lot of issues for organizations who are still recording this data using paper-based strategies. The other change is that OSHA will soon post the information from 300 Logs and 301 Forms on its website for review and access by the public. OSHA hopes that making the information publicly accessible will enable researchers to examine the data. This will help identify new workplace safety hazards. The rule is also expected to create competition between employers for the greatest safety record.
How will this affect employees
Concerns were brought forward that the publication of safety data could lead to a higher rate of retaliation against employees who report workplace incidents. In order to protect the employees amongst this competition the rule also includes new anti-retaliation provisions. These will protect workers from being harassed by their employer for submitting reports. Starting in August 2016 OSHA will require that employers take the following steps:
- Inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation.
- Ensure that the procedure for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses is reasonable and must not deter employees from reporting.
- Employers may not retaliate against employees for reporting.
Also, employees will be able file a complaint with OSHA which will then be investigated by an OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officer. Depending on what the officer determines, OSHA could issue a citation that requires the offending employer to remove discipline from an employee’s record, pay an employee back pay, or even reinstate an employee. These requirements all go into effect on August 10, 2016.
When does this start
There is still time before any reporting requirements begin to change, the electronic reporting rule will be phased in over the next few years as follows:
- The final rule becomes effective January 1, 2017.
- In 2017 all establishments that apply will need to start submitting their 300A form electronically before the July 1 deadline.
- In 2018 establishments with 250 or more employees will need to start also submitting their 300 and 301 electronically by the July 1 deadline.
- By 2019, the submission deadline will be changed to March 2nd.
How to prepare
Your organization should begin preparing for how it is going to handle the rule changes. At Sospes, we can make this transition painless. The Sospes app automatically fills out electronic versions of the OSHA 301, 300, and 300A for you. It allows workers to report incidents, close calls, and even make suggestions, all in real time. The information is then sent on to the safety manager to start investigations, complete regulatory filings, and use analytics to identify where resources should be focused, ultimately making you compliant with the electronic reporting rule, lowering incident rates, and improving engagement.
Check out the list of industries who will be required to submit their reports electronically: