What is OSHA?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, was established by the United States Department of Labor on April 28, 1971, to "assure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.”
OSHA conducts workplace inspections on a regular basis, often in response to a worker complaint, and during these reviews, they may request to see various records of injuries and illnesses.
Because OSHA inspections can result in significant fines, it is prudent for all employers to ensure that their recordkeeping is thorough and accurate, and that it corresponds to what OSHA expects to see.
Who is required to keep OSHA Records?
According to 29 CFR 1904, any employer covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act with 11 or more employees is required to keep OSHA injury and illness records. Employers with ten or fewer employees, as well as organisations in certain low-hazard industries, are partially exempt from keeping such records.
Employee numbers within many smaller organisations may fluctuate throughout the year. Employers should reconsider their maximum employment numbers in these cases. Unless you work in an exempt industry, you must record safety incidents if you have more than 10 employees at any time during the year.
Furthermore, not all employers are subject to federal OSHA regulations. Currently, 26 states and two U.S. territories have an OSHA-approved State Plan in place.
What defines an incident according to the OSHA?
Simply put, any type of injury or illness that occurs as a result of a work-related incident and necessitates medical treatment, whether from a medical professional or a layperson, must be documented.
Employers will need to record any incident that results in the following:
- Loss of consciousness
- Days away from work
- Restricted work activity or job transfer
- Hearing loss
- Diagnosed cases of cancer or chronic irreversible diseases
- Needlestick injuries
- Fractured or cracked bones
Any work-related incident that results in a fatality or serious injury — in-patient hospitalisation, amputations, or the loss of an eye — must be reported directly, either to the nearest OSHA Area Office, the 24-hour OSHA hotline, or via the online reporting form.
What are the three different OSHA recordkeeping logs?
All applicable organisations are required to complete and maintain three different OSHA recordkeeping logs.
OSHA Form 301
This form, also known as an Injury and Illness Incident Report form, contains any injury that has been determined to be OSHA recordable. The extent and severity of an injury or illness, as well as medical information, will be listed on this form.
Incidents must be reported within seven calendar days of discovering the injury or illness. This form is not submitted to OSHA, but it must be kept at your workplace for 5 years.
OSHA 300 Log
The OSHA 300 Log, which must include incident information such as employee details and whether the incident resulted in death, days away from work, a job transfer, or other outcomes, is the next form.
The 300 Log, like Form 301, must be kept on the jobsite for 5 years. During an OSHA inspection, employers may be required to produce a copy of the 300 Log.
OSHA updated the recordkeeping regulation in 2019 so that applicable organisations now only need to submit the OSHA 300A, which serves as an annual summary of all work-related incidents.
This, like all other OSHA forms, must be kept at the workplace for 5 years. Furthermore, the OSHA 300A must be signed by a company executive and displayed in the office from February 1 to April 30 each year.
What needs to be submitted to OSHA?
While the various OSHA logs include detailed information about injuries and illnesses, and these forms must be kept on-site and may be requested during an inspection, the majority of organisations will not be required to submit data to OSHA.
As of 2017, only establishments with 250 or more employees, as well as those with 20 or more employees in certain high-risk industries, were required to electronically submit 300A. Employers must use OSHA's Injury Tracking Application portal to submit OSHA 300A data for the previous calendar year by March 2 in these cases.
One thing to keep in mind is that even if there were no injuries or illnesses, organisations that fall under the above requirements for submitting data to OSHA must complete an Injury Tracking Application. In that case, zeros would be reported, but the information would still need to be officially documented.