“Time is on my side. Yes it is.”
— The Rolling Stones
Time might be on Mick Jagger’s side. But if your client is an employer with 10 or more employees, then the question as to whether time is on its side comes with a very simple answer: “No, it isn’t.” At least as far as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is concerned.
By July 1, 2018, OSHA is requiring employers to electronically submit injury and illness data (Form 300A) that they are already required to record on their onsite OSHA Injury and Illness forms and that they should already have posted at each job site in a conspicuous area where notices to employees are customarily placed. Copies of the 300A summary should be provided to any employees who may not see the posted summary because they do not regularly report to a fixed location.
OSHA states that the analysis of this data will enable it to use its enforcement and compliance assistance resources more efficiently. Some of the data may possibly be posted to the OSHA website. The amount of data submitted will vary depending on company size and industry type. OSHA requires employers to keep a backlog of injuries from the past five years.
It’s important to let your employer clients know that only the 300A form needs to be submitted prior to July 1, 2018. Form 300A reports an employer’s total number of deaths, missed workdays, job transfers or restrictions, and injuries and illnesses as recorded on Form 300. It also includes the number of workers and the hours they worked for the year.
So how did this change come about? And why?
On Thursday, May 12, 2016, OSHA changed the way workplace injuries need to be reported because it believed that it was able to access only 1 percent of all workplace injury reports, mostly through audits and surprise inspections. To gain access to the remaining 99 percent, OSHA came up with a plan where, instead of trying to track down the infractions on its own, OSHA would now require employers to report all incidents directly to the Administration “voluntarily.” It’s a classic example of if you aren’t catching enough fish on your next trip out on the lake, come up with a way to have all of the fish in the lake actually jump into the boat “voluntarily.”
The good news is the new rules will benefit employers who have already committed to engraining a safety culture for their organization and provide a “nudge” (which may feel like a push to some) to those employers who put safety on the back burner. No longer will a “strong safety culture” be a plus or a bonus for an organization.
The new rules require employers to take safety seriously by further reinforcing the need and importance of establishing a strong safety culture; one that trickles down from the C-suite to the workers on the floor. Now more than ever, it’s extremely important that a company puts safety above all other concerns.
Your clients need to also be aware that any reported incidents can also act as breadcrumbs for OSHA to find its way back to incidents that may not have been reported. Let me make this crystal clear: OSHA does not have a “get out of jail free” card it’s waiting to play. If your clients are found to be negligent in reporting workplace injuries, the penalties can be extremely harsh.
Remember, only serious injuries that are the result of workplace activity need be reported. Everyone involved should analyze the activity to determine whether the injury was due to work duties. Businesses are not required to report injuries resulting from activities merely incidental to work responsibilities.
As defined by OSHA, a serious injury is one that results in a fatality, loss of consciousness, days away from work, a restricted work schedule or job transfer, or a significant-injury or illness diagnosis by a healthcare provider that requires medical treatment beyond basic first aid. Employers are not required to report incidents that require only basic first aid.
It’s equally important that all reporting be accurate and that perhaps the best course of action is to enlist the services of someone primed to handle the task. Any report generated should show that the company advocates having healthy
The new rules now require employers to take safety seriously by further reinforcing the need and importance of establishing a strong safety culture; one that trickles down from the C-suite to the workers
on the floor. and safety-conscious employees, because once that misinformation is out there, it’s a bell that can’t be unrung. An errant report has the potential to paint any company in shades of doubt and should be avoided at all costs. The key is timely and accurate reporting. The obligation you have to keep your employer client in the loop on this important OSHA reporting date cannot be understated. But it also opens up the door to secure new clients who may not have been brought up to speed on what is expected of them by their current agent, and thus are seeking a change.
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