It’s time for a reminder! Establishments covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) electronic recordkeeping requirements must submit their completed 2019 Form 300A using OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application (ITA) by Monday, March 2, 2020.
These requirements are intended to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses nationwide, and the data helps OSHA identify safety and health hazards and trends in order to more effectively target its enforcement and inspection efforts.
It’s important for covered employers to know the ins and outs of the process—while the facts and process of compliance with the rule aren’t terribly complex, recordkeeping mistakes can be costly.
The Who, What, When, and How of OSHA Electronic Reporting
There are a variety of things that employers need to know about data reporting under OSHA’s requirements. Here are the basics of submitting your Form 300A.
Who: Establishments that employ 250 or more workers and are currently required to maintain injury and illness records must electronically submit data from their OSHA Form 300A; establishments with 20–249 employees in designated industries listed at 29 CFR 1904.41 Appendix A are likewise required to electronically submit their data. Employers in State Plan states are also subject to this requirement, but industry coverage requirements may vary—if you are subject to a State Plan, contact your State Plan office with any questions about your specific obligations.
(Note that if you work for a Federal Agency, you should not use the ITA to submit injury and illness data. These agencies are subject to different reporting requirements, information on which can be found here.)
What: Covered employers need to electronically submit information only from their OSHA Form 300A. While the initial 2016 rule called for more information from certain employers, a rule change from early 2019 removed the requirement to submit the Form 300 and Form 301 data.
When: OSHA began accepting 2019 injury and illness data on January 2, 2020, and the deadline for electronically submitting your form is March 2, 2020.
How: Data reporting should be completed via OSHA’s secure ITA website, which offers three options for data submission:
1. Manual data entry into a web form.
2. Uploading a CSV file to process multiple establishments at the same time.
3. Users of automated recordkeeping systems will have the ability to transmit data electronically via an API (application programming interface).
OSHA has detailed instructions, information, and frequently asked questions regarding the process on its ITA Final Rule web page.
What’s New for 2020?
While little has changed from last year’s reporting process, there is one new requirement for 2020. Organizations are now required to provide their Employer Identification Numbers (EIN) when submitting their Form 300As. If you already have an ITA account, you will be prompted to provide this number when you log in to report this year’s data, so be sure to have your number on hand.
Three Big Mistakes to Avoid in Recordkeeping
OSHA enforcement actions show no signs of slowing down—in fact, the number of inspections rose in 2019. Therefore, it is imperative that businesses take OSHA compliance seriously, and safety data recordkeeping and reporting is no exception.
With health and safety data flowing more efficiently to OSHA than ever before, recordkeeping errors—or other red flags within the data—could lead the agency right to your company’s door for a surprise inspection. While the electronic data reporting process may be relatively simple, it can be easy to make mistakes in day-to-day recordkeeping. Here are three big ones to avoid.
Misclassifying first aid vs. medical treatment. “First aid” includes ONLY the treatments on the specific list at 29 CFR 1904.7(b)(5)(ii). If an injury is treated only with first aid, it’s not recordable (unless it results in death, days away from work, restricted work/job transfer, or another recordable outcome such as a needlestick). All other treatments are “medical treatment” and therefore recordable. Also remember that it doesn’t matter who administers the treatment or where it’s delivered (i.e., a nurse vs. doctor vs. first-aid provider at the office; or the emergency room vs. your own workplace clinic). The determining factor is the treatment itself.
Properly reconciling conflicts between a physician’s recommendations and what actually happens. Physicians and other licensed health care professionals make recommendations that an employer can follow, but the employer has the ultimate responsibility for determining how to record a case—and the record should reflect what actually occurred. For example, if a physician recommends light-duty work but none is available, and the employee must take time off to recover, the case should be recorded as a days-away-from-work case. In addition, if a physician recommends light-duty work, the employer must determine whether the recommended restrictions actually affect one or more of the routine functions of an employee’s job. For example, if a physician recommends that an employee not lift anything over 20 pounds, but the employee does no heavy lifting on the job anyway, that’s not considered restricted work. On the flip side, if a physician recommends job restrictions that would impact an employee’s routine job duties, but the employee chooses to disregard them, the case should be recorded as a restricted work case. (Even better, employers should take an active role in ensuring that injured employees follow their job restrictions to avoid further injury.)
Not recording temporary workers’ injuries. In most cases, an employer that uses temporary workers (i.e., the host employer) must record any injuries those workers incur on its own OSHA 300 log. Many employers make the mistake of thinking it is the staffing agency’s responsibility to record these injuries. Recordkeeping responsibility is determined by which party is providing day-to-day supervision over the employee, which in most cases is the host employer. However, if a staffing agency sends its own supervisor to a facility with a group of employees and that supervisor is substantially directing the work of those employees (and not merely serving an HR-related function or performing administrative functions such as payroll and scheduling), the staffing agency would be providing the day-to-day supervision and would record temporary worker injuries on its OSHA 300 log in that scenario.
With civil penalties for OSHA penalties now topping out well into the six-figure range, employers must do all they can to ensure proper safety data recordkeeping and reporting. With the proper due diligence, you can be confident that the report you electronically submit this year is beneficial both for your business and for the tracking and study of workplace health and safety nationwide.