Each year there are more than 3 million serious (requiring more than first aid) workplace injuries and illnesses. Given the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s requirement that employers provide safe and healthy workplaces, this number is unacceptably high. To address this problem, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently revised various workplace safety regulations.

The most notable revision adds an electronic submission requirement to OSHA’s current record keeping regulations, which require employers with more than ten employees to keep a record of serious work-related injuries and illnesses. Employers with ten or fewer employees and employers in certain lower-hazard industries are partially exempt from this requirement. This revision becomes effective January 1, 2017, and will be phased in over two years.

The revised regulations do not change an employer’s current obligation to complete and retain injury and illness records. Covered employers are (and have been) required to record information about recordable injuries and illnesses on three separate OSHA forms.

  • Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses)
  • Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses)
  • Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report)

Under the revised regulations, submission requirements depend on the number of employees working at a single physical location where business is conducted or where services and operations are performed (an Establishment).

Establishments with 250 or more employees must begin electronically submitting information from Form 300A to OSHA by July 1, 2017. Information from all three forms (300A, 300 and 301) must be submitted electronically by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2nd.

Establishments with 20 to 249 employees operating in certain high-risk industries must electronically submit information from Form 300A to OSHA by July 1st of 2017 and 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2nd. Though some of the industries designated as high-risk are obvious (agriculture, utilities, construction, manufacturing), others are not (grocery and department stores, museums, boarding houses). If you’re not sure whether this new electronic submission requirement applies, contact OSHA.

Additional revisions were made to promote complete and accurate reporting of work-related injuries and illnesses. As of August 10, 2016, employers must establish a reasonable procedure for employees to promptly and accurately report work-related injuries and illnesses. A procedure is not reasonable if it would deter or discourage a reasonable employee from accurately reporting injuries or illnesses. Employees must be informed about the reporting procedure.

Employers must also inform each employee that:

  • they have the right to report work-related injuries and illnesses; and
  • employers are prohibited from discharging or in any manner discriminating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses.

OSHA will provide a secure website for electronic submissions, including web forms for direct data entry and instructions for other means of submission. OSHA also intends to provide an interface for entering data from mobile devices.

OSHA estimates that it will take a typical employer with less than 250 employees about 10 minutes to create an account and another 10 minutes to enter the required information from Form 300A. For larger employers, OSHA estimates an additional 12 minutes will be needed to enter the required information for each injury or illness recorded on their Forms 300 and 301.

The revised regulations should serve as a reminder for employers of their obligation to provide a safe and healthy workplace. In addition to protecting employees from work-related injuries, employers may benefit financially from lower workers’ compensation insurance premiums.

Please contact us if you would like more information about controlling workers’ compensation insurance costs .

Additional information is also available in our weekly Risk Management Newsletters.