IS YOUR COMPANY COMPLYING WITH OSHA’S NEW REPORTING AND RECORDKEEPING STANDARDS?

In addition to the myriad of state and local health, safety and licensing requirements, Idaho employers should be aware of recordkeeping and reporting regulations from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (“OSHA”).  Since Idaho does not have a federally approved occupational safety and health regulatory program, private sector workplaces remain under OSHA’s federal jurisdiction.  OSHA regulations cover most private sector employers, and impose a responsibility to provide a safe workplace by eliminating or reducing hazards.  They also require many employers to record work-related injuries and illnesses using OSHA’s Form 300 injury log, and to provide a copy of the log to an employee or former employee within one business day upon request. 

Before implementing an OSHA injury log, however, employers should check whether or not they are exempt.  Employers are exempt from OSHA’s recordkeeping mandate if they have 10 or fewer employees, or if their establishment is classified as a “partially exempt” industry.  “Partially exempt” industries include certain low-hazard retail, service, finance, legal, insurance or real estate businesses. 

Starting on January 1, 2015, however, the list of partially exempt industries was amended, and OSHA estimates that 199,000 establishments that were previously exempt are now nonexempt.  Employers should review the list immediately to confirm their status. 

Also as of January 1, 2015, new regulations took effect that require all employers to report to OSHA work-related fatalities within eight (8) hours, and work-related in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye within 24 hours.  OSHA’s rules define “in-patient hospitalization” as a “formal admission” to inpatient care or treatment.  This does not include admission for diagnostic testing or observation only, but OSHA has not given guidance to further clarify the rule. 

OSHA commented on the new reporting rules in a recent press release.  First, while OSHA expects it will be notified of many hospitalizations, it does not intend to send an inspector to respond to every one of them.  Instead, OSHA hopes that because of the reporting requirement, employers will be more likely to take steps to address whatever hazard caused the injury.  Second, employers should also be aware that reports of severe injuries and illnesses will be publicly available.  OSHA hopes this will “nudge” employers to take steps to prevent injuries so they are not seen as unsafe places to work.

OSHA is developing a web portal for employers to report incidents electronically, but this option is not available yet.  In any event, employers should consider reporting by telephone and speaking directly to an OSHA representative, rather than submitting a written statement that might be used against them in litigation or enforcement proceedings.

INSIGHTS FOR EMPLOYERS

  • OSHA estimates that many thousands of previously exempt employers will now be subject to recordkeeping and reporting requirements under the new 2015 regulations.  Employers with more than 10 employees should re-check the list of OSHA exempt industries to confirm their status.  The exempt industries are listed on OSHA’s website.
  • All employers are now required to report to OSHA any work-related fatality, inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye.  Telephone reporting remains the best option because reporting must be done very quickly after the event and it is best not to put the injury description in written form that could later be used as evidence.
  • The requirement to report an employee’s “formal admission” to a hospital does not appear to include minor treatment in the emergency room.  However, before deciding not to report an injury, employers should carefully review the nature and extent of the hospital care.

     

  • Please contact a Gjording Fouser lawyer at 208.336.9777 if you would like any additional information about this topic or any other employment issues facing your company.