HIPAA

Compliance Perspective: How to Comply with New OSHA Electronic Injury Recordkeeping & Reporting Rules

 

  • Does your lab facility have 250 or more employees?
  • Has your employee count reached 250 or more at any time during the 2016 calendar year?
  • Is your lab part of a hospital that has had 20 to 249 employees at any time during the calendar year?

If you answered YES to any of the above questions, make sure you mark July 1 on your compliance calendar. That’s the date by which you must make your first electronic filing to OSHA under new illness and injury recordkeeping rules. Here’s a look at the rules, who they affect and what you must do to comply with them.

Background
OSHA requires labs to maintain accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses. In November 2013, OSHA proposed the so called "Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses" rule to require electronic recordkeeping and reporting. OSHA issued the Final Rule on May 12, 2016 (Rule) and the first electronic filing deadline is July 1, 2017. Here are the 13 things lab managers need to know about the Rule to ensure that their facility complies with it.

1. How It Changes OSHA Log Requirements
The Rule changes OSHA Recordkeeping Regulations (Section 1904), specifically, the provisions requiring you to keep OSHA logs to track work injuries and illnesses. It doesn’t affect the kind of information you track and how you record it. You’ll still need to maintain the same OSHA logs you always have. But starting July 1, some labs will have to start reporting information from their injury and illness records electronically each year so that OSHA can post the data on a publicly accessible website.

2. Why OSHA Issued the Rule
Mandatory electronic reporting and disclosure of OSHA injury records is designed to give labs and other employers a safety "nudge." OSHA’s logic: Knowing that their OSHA logs will be accessible to potential investors, customers, employees and the public, will give employers an incentive do more to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses. The availability of online data on other labs will also enable labs to benchmark and compare their health and safety performance to others in the sector.

3. How to Determine If Your Lab Is Covered
If you’re currently exempt or partially exempt from OSHA recordkeeping requirements, you’re not covered by the new electronic reporting and disclosure rules either (unless OSHA expressly notifies you otherwise). But if you are required to keep OSHA illness and injury records, you may also be subject to the new rules depending on your lab’s size and facility type. Specifically, you’re covered if:

  • You had 250 or more employees at any time during the previous calendar year; or
  • You had 20 to 249 employees at any time during the previous calendar year and you’re in one of the industries designated as high-risk listed in Appendix A of the Rule. For labs, the relevant listings could include:

High-Risk Industries Listed in Appendix A Relevant to Labs

NAICS Industry
6219 Other Ambulatory Health Care Services
6221 General Medical & Surgical Hospitals
6222 Psychiatric & Substance Abuse Hospitals
6223 Specialty (except Psychiatric & Substance Abuse) Hospitals
6231 Nursing Care Facilities
6232 Residential Mental Retardation, Mental Health & Substance Abuse Facilities
6233 Community Care Facilities for the Elderly
6239 Other Residential Care Facilities
6242 Community Food & Housing, and Emergency & Other Relief Services
6243 Vocational Rehabilitation Services

4. Which Information Is Subject to Electronic Reporting & Disclosure
Electronic reporting and disclosure rules apply to injury and illness information listed in a lab’s OSHA recordkeeping forms, i.e.:

  • The OSHA Form 300 Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA 300);
  • The OSHA Form 300A Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA 300A); and
  • The OSHA Form 301 Injury and Illness Incident Report (OSHA 301).
  • If you’re covered because your lab has 250+ employees, you must report information from all 3 forms.
  • If you’re covered because your lab has 20 to 249 employees and is high-risk, you must report information only from your OSHA 300A.

5. Which Information from Each OSHA Form You Must Report
Basic rule: You must report all information listed in the particular form except information that reveals or could be used to reveal the identity of the injured or ill employee:

OSHA Form Required Information
OSHA 300 Everything except employee name (column B)
OSHA 300A Everything
OSHA 301 Everything except: Employee name (field 1); employee address (field 2); name of physician or other health care professional (field 6); facility name and address if treatment given away from worksite (field 7)

6. How Often You Must Report
Electronic reporting is required once a year.

7. The Deadline for Reporting
The new reporting rules officially took effect on January 1, 2017 and will be phased in over the next 2 years. Reporting deadlines vary depending on why you’re covered:

If you’re covered because your lab has 250+ employees, follow this timetable:

  • July 1, 2017: Deadline to report 2017 OSHA 300A information;
  • July 1, 2018: Deadline to report 2018 OSHA 300, 300A and 301 information;
  • March 2, 2019 (and every year thereafter): Deadline to report information from that particular year’s OSHA 300, 300A and 301.

If you’re covered because your lab has 20 to 249 employees and is classified as high-risk, follow this timetable:

  • July 1, 2017: Deadline to report 2017 OSHA 300A information;
  • July 1, 2018: Deadline to report 2018 OSHA 300A information;
  • March 2, 2019 (and every year thereafter): Deadline to report information from that particular year’s OSHA 300A.

8. How to Report the Required Information
OSHA will provide a secure web site for employers to electronically submit the required injury and illness information. The site will have web forms for direct data entry and instructions for other means of submission, e.g., uploading of files.

9. How Long Reporting Will Take
OSHA claims that it will take about 10 minutes to create an account and another 10 minutes to enter the required 300A information. If you have to file information from the other two OSHA forms because your lab has 250+ employees, OSHA estimates it will take 12 minutes to enter the required information for each injury or illness recorded on your OSHA 300 and 301.

10. The New Workers’ Reporting Rights Notification Requirement
OSHA is worried that once OSHA logs become publicly accessible, employers may try to keep workers from reporting work injuries and illnesses. Thus, while it’s already against the law to punish a worker for reporting an injury or illness, the Rule requires employers to notify workers that they have the right to report work injuries and illnesses without retaliation by August 10, 2016.

11. The New ‘Reasonable’ Reporting Procedure Rule
OSHA already requires employers to establish a policy for workers to report work injuries and illnesses. But the Rule expressly states what the previous regulations only implied: the reporting procedure must be reasonable and not discourage or deter workers from reporting injuries and illnesses.

12. How to Ensure Your Reporting Procedure Complies with the Rule
Although the Rule doesn’t define "reasonable," OSHA has provided guidance to help employers determine if their reporting procedure is acceptable:

  • Rigid prompt reporting requirements that discipline workers for reporting late are problematic especially with regard to injuries and illnesses that take time to develop like musculoskeletal disorders;
  • Incentive programs that reward workers for being injury- and illness- free are okay as long as they don’t discourage reporting;
  • Drug testing workers after they report an injury or illness is okay as long as testing meets federal and state requirements and isn’t designed to intimidate, discourage or punish reporting.

13. OSHA’s New Anti-Retaliation Enforcement Powers
Under previous rules, OSHA’s authority to punish employers for retaliation didn’t kick in unless and until the worker filed a complaint. The problem is that workers often lacked the time and knowledge—not to mention the courage—to file a retaliation complaint against their employer with OSHA. The Rule eliminates that barrier to enforcement by allowing OSHA to issue citations for retaliation even if workers don’t file a complaint.

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