OSHA Rule Amends Federal Workforce Record-keeping Requirements

By Roy Maurer Aug 7, 2013

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule Aug. 5, 2013, that will require federal agencies to submit their occupational injury and illness record-keeping information to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and OSHA each year.

The BLS will use the data, which federal agencies are already required to gather and maintain, to aggregate injury and illness information. This information will allow OSHA to analyze the injuries and illnesses that occur among the nation’s 2 million-plus federal employees and to develop training and inspection programs to respond to the hazards identified.

The rule takes effect Jan. 1, 2014.

The final rule also changes the date—from Jan. 1 to May 1—on which federal agencies must submit their annual report on injury and illness data to the BLS and clarifies that agencies must include uncompensated volunteers when reporting and recording occupational injuries and illnesses.

OSHA’s Record-keeping System

The record-keeping system consists of three forms. First, employers must maintain a log (OSHA Form 300) that lists every injury and illness that occurred in each establishment during the year. For each case on the log, the organization also must prepare a supplementary record (OSHA Form 301) that provides additional details about the injury or illness. A summary of the log (OSHA Form 300A) is prepared by the employer and posted in the workplace from Feb. 1 to April 30.

The final rule requires federal agencies, by May 1 of each year, to submit information contained on the three OSHA record-keeping forms to the BLS, which will then electronically transmit the data to OSHA.

Private-Sector Requirements

The Occupational Safety and Health Act authorizes OSHA to require private-sector employers to make, keep and preserve (and make available to OSHA) records relating to the act.

The act also requires businesses to provide a complete copy of records to an authorized government representative when the representative asks for them during a workplace safety-and-health inspection.

OSHA has the power to require companies to make periodic reports on work-related deaths, injuries and illnesses. For purposes of OSHA injury and illness record-keeping, a subset of employers provide periodic reports via the OSHA Data Initiative and the Annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, which the BLS conducts.

Annually, OSHA sends injury and illness survey forms to employers in certain high-hazard industries. In any year, only some organizations receive a survey form. Employers are not required to send injury and illness record-keeping information to OSHA unless they receive a survey form.

Distinctions Between Public, Private Record-keeping

The final rule includes two important differences from the private-sector data-collection system. First, unlike the private-sector collection effort, which is a statistical sample, this rule requires every federal agency to submit all injury and illness data. Second, unlike the private-sector BLS survey, which is conducted solely for statistical purposes and is not shared with OSHA, the BLS collection of federal agency data from the OSHA forms will be electronically transmitted to OSHA.

Federal Employees Who Telecommute

When a federal employee works from home, the person’s home is not a separate establishment for record-keeping purposes, and a separate OSHA 300 Log is not required. For these workers, the establishment is the office to which they report and receive direction and collect pay from, and it is at this establishment where the log is kept.

Agencies should keep in mind that injuries and illnesses that take place while an employee is working from home are not automatically presumed work-related, OSHA said. A relationship must be established by demonstrating that the employee’s work activity is a discernible cause of the injury or illness.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him on Twitter @SHRMRoy.

Related Article:

Recordkeeping: It’s More Than Just Compliance, SHRM Online Safety & Security, July 2013

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