A federal rule requiring certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness reports goes into effect today.
The rule applies to businesses in many states with 250 or more employees that are currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records, and establishments with 20-249 employees that are classified in certain industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses. These industries include agriculture, utilities, construction, manufacturing, transportation, hospitals, nursing homes and others.
These businesses are already required to keep records at each of their locations but now these reports must be filed electronically with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) via a new online injury tracking application on a new website.
OSHA injury and illness records are maintained at the establishment level, which OSHA defines as a single physical location where business is conducted or where services or industrial operations are performed. A firm may have one or more establishments.
The new reporting requirements are being phased in over two years. Today’s (Dec. 15) deadline, which represents an extension from an original Dec. 1 deadline, is for submitting information from already-completed 2016 Form 300A. In 2018, covered establishments with 250 or more employees must submit information from all completed 2017 forms (300A, 300, and 301) by July 1, 2018, and covered establishments with 20-249 employees must submit information from their completed 2017 Form 300A by July 1, 2018.
Update: On Dec. 18, OSHA said it will continue accepting 2016 OSHA Form 300A data through the ITA until midnight on Dec. 31, 2017 and will not take enforcement action against employers who submit their reports after the Dec. 15, 2017, deadline but before Dec. 31, 2017, final entry date. However starting January 1, 2018, OSHA said the ITA will no longer accept the 2016 data.
Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the reports are due by March 2.
OSHA estimates that it will take a typical employer about 10 minutes to create an account and another 10-12 minutes to enter the required information.
Establishments must submit the information electronically and may not submit the information on paper. Employers who do not have the necessary equipment or internet connection may submit their data from a public facility, such as a library, according to OSHA.
OSHA noted that some state OSHA plans have not yet adopted the requirement to submit injury and illness reports electronically. These include California, Maryland, Minnesota, South Carolina, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Establishments in these states are not currently required to submit their summary data through the ITA. Similarly, state and local government establishments in Illinois, Maine, New Jersey and New York are not currently required to submit their data through the ITA.
Supporters of the rule, developed under the Obama Administration, believe that it will lead to a more complete database of workplace injuries and that public disclosure of the data will encourage increased focus on preventing work-related injuries and illnesses. Some businesses and other groups have warned about potential privacy violations if, as the original rule called for, the data is posted on OSHA’s web site for the public to search. The Trump Administration, while proceeding with the electronic reporting requirement, has not yet indicated whether the data will be made public. OSHA said it is still is reviewing some provisions of the rule and may revise or remove portions of the rule in 2018.
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