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A 16-Step OSHA Recordkeeping Compliance Game Plan

by | Jan 26, 2022

Reminder: The deadline for electronic submission of OSHA 300A data for 2021 is March 2, 2022. Here’s a 16-step game plan you can use to ensure compliance with OSHA recordkeeping standards. What the recordkeeping standard requires The OSHA recordkeeping and reporting rules are set out in Section 1904 of the regulation, entitled “Recording and Reporting […]

Reminder: The deadline for electronic submission of OSHA 300A data for 2021 is March 2, 2022. Here’s a 16-step game plan you can use to ensure compliance with OSHA recordkeeping standards.

What the recordkeeping standard requires

The OSHA recordkeeping and reporting rules are set out in Section 1904 of the regulation, entitled “Recording and Reporting of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.” While it’s a year-round task, recordkeeping typically becomes a higher priority at the end of the year as the annual March 2, OSHA 300A electronic data submission deadline for the preceding year approaches. There are 16 basic steps to take to comply with OSHA recordkeeping rules:

Step 1: Figure out if you must keep injury/illness records (OSHA 300 logs)

All employers must report workplace incidents resulting in fatalities or hospitalization of three or more employees to OSHA. The question: Do you also have to keep written illness and injury records? Rule: Yes, unless your lab qualifies for one of three possible exemptions:
  • The 10 or fewer employees exemption;
  • The partial classified industries exemption; or
  • The equivalent government agency illness/injury records exemption, e.g., you already keep equivalent records for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, Department of Energy, Federal Railroad Administration, or other federal government agency.

Step 2: Determine which lab employees you must keep OSHA 300 logs for

You must keep records for all “covered employees,” i.e., all employees on your payroll, whether they’re labor, executive, hourly, salary, part-time, seasonal, or migrant workers. You must also record recordable injuries and illnesses to employees who aren’t on your payroll if you supervise them on a day-to-day basis, including temps, leased employees, and others supplied by an outside personnel service.

Step 3: Record all recordable injuries & illnesses

You must keep records of each fatality, injury, and illness that:
  • Is work-related;
  • Constitutes a new case; and
  • Meets one or more of the general recording criteria of Sec. 1904.7, i.e., results in:
    • Death;
    • Days away from work;
    • Restricted work or transfer to another job;
    • Medical treatment beyond first aid;
    • Loss of consciousness; or
    • A significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed health care professional; and
  • Meets recording criteria for specific cases, including, needlestick and sharps injuries, cases involving medical removal, cases involving occupational hearing loss, work-related tuberculosis cases, and musculoskeletal disorder cases.

Step 4: Properly fill out the OSHA forms 300, 300A, & 301

You must record recordable injuries and illnesses in the right forms, including:
  • OSHA 300 Log for Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses: Enter information about your business and a one- or two-line description for each recordable injury or illness on the OSHA 300 within seven calendar days of receiving information that a recordable injury or illness occurred;
  • OSHA 300A Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses: You must summarize information from the OSHA 300 information on the OSHA 300A at the end of the year; and
  • OSHA 301 Injury and Illness Incident Report: You complete an OSHA 301 Incident Report form, or an equivalent form, for each recordable injury or illness within seven calendar days of receiving information that the recordable injury or illness occurred.

Step 5: Protect injured/ill workers’ privacy

For what are called privacy concern cases, you must enter “privacy case” instead of the employee's name on the OSHA 300 log to protect the privacy of the injured or ill employee in case another employee, a former employee, or an authorized employee representative is provided access to the OSHA 300 log.

Step 6: Make sure each of your business establishments fulfills its recordkeeping obligations

Your lab must keep a separate OSHA 300 log for each establishment expected to be in operation for one year or longer. You must also keep OSHA injury and illness records for short-term establishments, i.e., those that will exist for less than a year—although you don’t have to keep a separate OSHA 300 log for each of those establishments. You can keep one OSHA 300 log covering all of your short-term establishments or include the short-term establishments' recordable injuries and illnesses in an OSHA 300 log that covers short-term establishments for individual company divisions or geographic regions.

Step 7: Prepare, certify, post, & electronically submit annual OSHA 300A summary

At the end of each calendar year, you must review the OSHA 300 log as extensively as necessary to verify that the entries are complete and accurate, correct any deficiencies you find, create an annual summary of injuries and illnesses recorded on the OSHA 300, certify the summary, and post the annual summary. You must still complete, certify, and post the OSHA 300A even if you had no recordable cases for the year. Electronic submission of OSHA 300A data is required if: i. you have 250 or more employees, or ii. you have 20 to 249 employees and are classified in specific industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illness. The list of covered specific industries most likely to include labs (by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code):
6219 Other ambulatory health care services
6221 General medical and surgical hospitals
6222 Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals
6223 Specialty (except psychiatric and substance abuse) hospitals
6231 Nursing care facilities
6232 Residential mental retardation, mental health, and substance abuse facilities
6233 Community care facilities for the elderly
6239 Other residential care facilities
The window for electronic 300A submission opens on Jan. 2 and closes on March 2.

Step 8: Retain injury/illness records

You must save the following documents for at least five years following the end of the calendar year the record covers:
  • The OSHA 300 log;
  • The privacy case list, if any;
  • The OSHA 300A annual summary; and
  • Any OSHA 301 incident reports.

Step 9: Revise & update injury/illness records

Over the five-year retention period, you must continually update your stored OSHA 300 logs as information becomes available by listing any newly discovered recordable injuries or illnesses that weren’t previously recorded. Modify the previous entry of any case that later information shows isn’t properly recorded, e.g., a case listed as requiring medical treatment turns out to be worse and requires the employee to take days off. And make sure you take the above actions within seven calendar days of receiving the new information.

Step 10: Ensure transfer of records to new owner of business

If your lab business changes ownership, you must recognize that you’re responsible for recording and reporting work-related injuries and illnesses for that period of the year during which you owned the establishment. You must also transfer the Part 1904 records to the new lab owner.

Step 11: Ensure employees report injuries/illnesses

You must establish a method for lab employees to report work-related injuries and illnesses to you promptly without fear of retaliation or discipline. Make sure you don’t fire, demote, or otherwise discriminate against an employee for:
  • Reporting a work-related fatality, injury, or illness;
  • Asking for access to OSHA illness/injury records;
  • Filing a safety and health complaint; or
  • Exercising any of his/her other health and safety rights under OSHA and other laws.

Step 12: Ensure employees access to injury/illness records

You must provide employees, former employees, their personal representatives, and their authorized employee representatives access to your OSHA injury and illness records, in accordance with the below requirements. Give the employee, former employee, or representative a copy of the relevant OSHA 300 log(s) for the establishment the employee works in or former employee worked in by the end of the next business day after access to copies is requested.

Step 13: Report fatalities & multiple hospitalization incidents to OSHA

You must orally report by telephone (you may use the OSHA toll-free central telephone number, 1-800-321-OSHA) or in person to the OSHA Area Office nearest to the site of the incident within eight hours after (or if you don’t learn of the incident right away, within eight hours of learning about it):
  • The death of any employee from a work-related incident; or
  • The in-patient hospitalization of three or more employees as a result of a work-related incident.
If the Area Office is closed and you can’t talk to a live person, you report the incident using the 800 number. You’re not allowed to report the incident by leaving a message on OSHA's answering machine, faxing the Area Office, or sending an e-mail. You must give OSHA the following information for each fatality or multiple hospitalization incident:
  • The establishment name;
  • The location of the incident;
  • The time of the incident;
  • The number of fatalities or hospitalized employees;
  • The names of any injured employees;
  • Your contact person and his or her phone number; and
  • A brief description of the incident.

Step 14: Provide records to OSHA & other government officials who request them

If requested, you must provide your OSHA illness and injury records within four business hours to authorized government representatives, including representatives of:
  • The Secretary of Labor who is conducting an inspection or investigation under the OSHA Act;
  • The Secretary of Health and Human Services (including NIOSH) conducting an investigation under section 20(b) of the OSHA Act; or
  • A state agency responsible for administering a state plan, e.g., Cal/OSHA.

Step 15: Complete OSHA annual injury & illness surveys if requested

If you receive OSHA's annual survey form, fill it out and send it to OSHA or an OSHA designee, by mail or other means described in the survey form within 30 calendar days, or by the date stated in the survey form, whichever is later. You must report the following information for the year described on the form:
  • The number of workers you employed;
  • The number of hours worked by your employees; and
  • The requested information from the records that you keep under Part 1904.

Step 16: Furnish injury/illness data requested by the BLS

If you receive one, you must promptly complete a Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Form from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) or a BLS designee and return it according to the instructions contained on the survey form. Compliance Pointer: Each year, the BLS sends injury and illness survey forms to randomly selected employers and uses the information to create the nation's occupational injury and illness statistics. You don’t have to send injury and illness data to the BLS unless you receive a survey form.

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