On May 11, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its long-anticipated final rule regarding injury and illness reporting. The new rule will require many employers (depending on their size) to electronically submit information about workplace injuries and illnesses to the government. OSHA has announced it intends to post this data on its public website in an online searchable database. The final rule also enhances anti-retaliation protections regarding reporting injuries and illnesses in the workplace. OSHA originally proposed the rule in 2013.
Details of the Final Rule
Establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records must electronically submit information from the OSHA 300 Logs, the 300A Summaries, and the 301 Injury and Illness Incident Reports to the agency.
For these establishments, there will be a phase-in where only the 300A Summaries for 2016 will be required to be electronically submitted by July 1, 2017. Meanwhile, the OSHA Forms 300A, 300, and 301s for 2017 will all be required to be submitted by July 1, 2018.
This new rule will also cover those establishments with 20 to 249 employees that are classified in 67 specific industries which have historically high rates of occupational injury and illness. These businesses must also electronically submit information from their 2016 OSHA 300A Summaries to OSHA by July 1, 2017. Beginning in 2019, the submission deadline will be changed from July 1 to March 2 for the previous year.
The final rule also requires employers to (1) inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation and (2) implement reasonable reporting methods that do not deter or discourage employees from reporting. OSHA has stated that you may meet this first obligation by posting the “Job Safety and Health – It's the Law” Workers' Right Poster from April 2015.
OSHA included an enhanced anti-retaliation provision in the final rule forbidding employers from discharging or “in any manner” discriminating against an employee for reporting a work-related injury or illness. The final rule allows OSHA to proceed against an employer even if the employee did not file a complaint of retaliation. During the rulemaking process, some commenters expressed concerns that such an anti-retaliation provision may interfere with employee discipline for violating safety rules or certain drug testing policies. OSHA provided some guidance as to when such policies would not run afoul of the final rule.
Objective of the Rule
OSHA will make the information public on its website in an online searchable database but will exclude any personally identifiable information. OSHA claims that as a result of the final rule, “employers, employees, employee representatives, the government, and researchers may be better able to identify and mitigate workplace hazards and thereby prevent workplace injuries and illnesses.” OSHA also stated that the final rule will allow it “to more effectively target its enforcement resources to establishments with high rates or numbers of workplaces with injuries or illnesses, and better evaluate its interventions.”
If you have questions about OSHA's Injury Tracking Final Rule, don't hesitate to contact leading California employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley. Take advantage of a free initial consultation to discuss your specific case by calling the toll free number (888) 500-8469 or click here to contact us regarding your case.