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Covered employers must complete and post their 2014 annual summary of work-related injuries and illnesses by Feb. 1, 2015, and keep it posted in a common area until April 30, 2015.
All employers required to keep Form 300, the Injury and Illness Log, must utilize the
annual summary Form 300A to comply with posting requirements even if there have been no recordable injuries or illnesses, as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will continue to focus on record-keeping violations in 2015.
This year’s summary must include the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred in 2014. More than 1.4 million establishments are required to maintain OSHA logs on an annual basis. The summary Form 300A reports a business’s total year-end number of fatalities, missed workdays due to injury or illness on the job, job transfers or restrictions, and injuries and illnesses as recorded on Form 300. It also includes the number of employees and the hours they worked for the year.
Which Employers Must Track Injuries and Illnesses?
Nonexempt employers with more than 10 employees must track injuries and illnesses and post the form. Certain low-hazard industries are exempt. Businesses that employ 10 or fewer workers or those that fall into an exempt category must also record injuries if they are required to by OSHA or the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics for survey purposes. Only the summary must be posted; the log does not have to be displayed but must be available to employees, their representatives or OSHA inspectors. Companies with multiple jobsites should keep a separate log and summary for each location that is expected to be operational for at least a year.
Newly Covered Employers
The list of industries exempt to the rule changed Jan. 1, 2015. Prior to 2015, the exemption list was based on the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system; going forward the list is based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). The exemption for employers with 10 or fewer employees was retained.
Newly covered employers who were previously exempt from OSHA record-keeping requirements and were not required to maintain the Form 300 in 2014 are not obligated to post the 300A on Feb. 1 of this year, as the form relates to injuries from the prior year, noted Eric Conn, founding partner and chair of the OSHA Workplace Safety Group at the law firm Conn Maciel Carey PLLC, based in Washington, D.C. Previously exempt employers should review the updated industry exemption list to see if they are now covered. If so, they must maintain the OSHA 300 logs this year and post the Form 300A in February 2016.
“The record-keeping requirements are not intuitive, and in a lot of instances they are counterintuitive,” said Conn. “If you’ve never had to keep a 300 log, it’s worth getting training, digging through the standard and guidance, because it’s complicated.” Conn recommended newly covered employers read
OSHA’s record-keeping standard, the agency’s
record-keeping compliance resources, or seek consultation from an occupational safety and health attorney.
OSHA requires that a company executive certify the 300A summary. Company executives are defined as:
This official must certify that he or she has reviewed the related records and that the posted summary is accurate and complete, to the best of his or her knowledge. HR managers normally cannot sign the OSHA 300A summary unless they are an officer of the company. “Being an HR manager is not good enough. The certifier must be a senior executive,” said Conn.
“OSHA describes this requirement as imposing senior management accountability for the integrity and accuracy of the reported data,” said Ed Foulke, a partner at Fisher & Phillips LLP in Atlanta, and the former assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health under George W. Bush.
The 300A summary must be posted at each jobsite from Feb. 1 to April 30, in a conspicuous area where notices to employees are customarily placed. Copies of the form should be provided to any employees who may not see the posted summary because they do not regularly work onsite. Employers have a duty to update and maintain records for five years plus the current year and provide them upon request for inspection by OSHA investigators. Employers must also ensure that the annual summary is not altered, defaced or obscured during the posting period.
“Those employers who maintain these records in electronic form should still retain the signed posted summary after the Feb. 1 to April 30 posting period, to prove that it was properly signed,” said Foulke.
Generally, only serious injuries resulting from workplace activity must be reported. A business should review an employee’s activities to determine whether an injury is work-related. Businesses are not required to report injuries that stem from activities that are merely incidental to work responsibilities. 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 health care provider, or that requires medical treatment beyond basic first aid. Employers should not report incidents that require only basic first aid. If the injury is of a sensitive nature, such as sexual assault, then the employer should write “privacy case” in the box for the worker’s name.
“Before the annual summary is prepared, the [OSHA] record-keeping rule imposes an express duty to review the log to verify that entries are complete and accurate. Employers must review the records as extensively as necessary to ensure accuracy,” said Foulke.
OSHA requires companies to enter the average number of employees and the total hours they worked on the summary form. An employer can plug those figures into a formula to calculate injury and illness incidence rates and compare them with the data of other establishments in similar industries.
OSHA scrutinizes the injury and illness record-keeping forms for even minor errors in descriptions and boxes checked, said Foulke. “Take time to review the forms for technical errors as well as to review accident reports, first aid logs and other related materials to ensure that all recordable incidents have been included and that records are consistent,” he said.
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
Follow him @SHRMRoy
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