5 Ways You Can Prepare for OSHA’s Final Rule I Tracking Injuries & Illnesses

OSHA's Final Rule

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule that now requires employers in certain industries to electronically submit injury and illness data. If you are reading this, you will likely be impacted. The change can create an opportunity to improve your company, or it will leave you further behind your competitors.

The new requirement mandates employers electronically submit injury and illness data that is currently required to be recorded in onsite OSHA Injury and Illness forms. The information that will be sent to OSHA, such as employee names, physician names and sensitive data will be obfuscated. Now is the time to determine how you will manage accident and incident record keeping and reporting going forward.

Data collection, in general, could have a broad impact on your business. For example, insurance rates could increase or decrease, customers could be more willing to collaborate, and potential hires could find your culture more attractive. This new OSHA rule could kick-start a number of new opportunities for your business if you approach the challenge with the right mindset. 


1) Determine If and When You Are Impacted

Who:  250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation. 20 to 249 employees in certain “high-risk” industries are also a part of the regulation. High-Risk industries include: Utilities, most Trucking, Transportation & Warehouse companies and many Healthcare facilities.

To Find a list of “high risk” industries click – here.

When:  The new rule takes effect on January 1, 2017 and has a two-year phase-in for the requirements.  Information from your 2016 Form 300A must be submitted by July 1, 2017.  For establishments with 250 or more employees, all 2017 forms (300A, 300, and 301) will be required to be submitted by July 1, 2018.  For establishments with 20 to 249 employees, the requirement is just to submit the 300A form.  Beginning in 2019, all information for both groups will be required to be submitted by March 2 of the following year.

2) Train

To encourage full disclosure of applicable incidents and accidents, the rule specifically mentions that employees need to be trained in the company’s method of reporting procedures and aware of the regulations.  In addition, workers and management should be trained in anti-retaliation policies and whistleblower protection.

The current OSHA poster program helps companies to comply and can be found here.

Training is often challenging due to 24/7 work shifts, a dispersed workforce, and high turnover.  Compliance software can greatly alleviate some of these challenges.  Building compliance data integrations with your learning management system (LMS) to achieve a single real-time view of your audit readiness can also help.

OSHA's Final Rule

If OSHA’s public use of the data becomes similar to other federal agencies, like the FMCSA, sharing your specific data could have a broad impact on many areas of your business, such as insurance rates being increased or decreased, customer willingness to work together, and your attractiveness as an employer.

3) Select a Reporting Strategy

The reporting site is scheduled to go live in February 2017 and will offer 3 options in order for you to comply: Manually entering data into OSHA website fields, CSV file imports & exports – or the easiest and most efficient way is an API integration with internal company systems and OSHA’s system sharing data.

Manual — Establishments will manually complete fields in a website.

This is the most inefficient and potentially inaccurate way for maintaining compliance but is the only way if you are still managing incidents and accidents with paper records or spreadsheets.

CSV — Companies can manually upload an excel spreadsheet with the required data.  Although it is not clear, it is likely that OSHA will provide a template with the required fields of data.  If you are currently using excel you would want to match your spreadsheet to their template for reporting purposes, and more sophisticated companies may even be able to automate the delivery of the CSV file.

This has some time advantages over the manual method if you are currently managing incidents and accidents with spreadsheets, but we always find data integrity concerns with this method.

API — Through an API, there is an automatic feed from a company’s electronic accident and incident management software.  If this is built similar to other government agencies, such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there will be a published set of technical instructions for the public to integrate their software. Commercially available recording keeping software products, like ours, have been following this rule for a while and are designing this new API integration with input from industry and customers.  It is important to note that although commercial products currently generate the standard forms (Osha 300, 300A and 301), under the new rule only some of that data will be reported electronically.

“Since high injury rates are a sign of poor management, no employer wants to be seen publicly as operating a dangerous workplace. Our new reporting requirements will ‘nudge’ employers to prevent worker injuries and illnesses to demonstrate to investors, job seekers, customers and the public that they operate safe and well managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target our compliance assistance and enforcement resources at establishments where workers are at greatest risk, and enable ‘big data’ researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer.” — Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health

Our experience shows that companies who adopt electronic record-keeping operate more efficiently, safely, and profitably.  Automating even some of the reporting process helps to ensure compliance and accuracy.

Working with companies of all sizes has shown that businesses who are able to leverage data from their operations are able to create real competitive advantages – regardless of their industry.  Use this opportunity to collect cleaner, more complete data from your operations and use that data to improve all aspects of your business.  It is likely your competitors will force you to become better before the government ever will.

4) Get Your House in Order

One intention of the new rule is to collect more information about workplace injuries and illnesses by encouraging full reporting.  Through enforcement, there is a renewed effort to promote a culture that does not deter employees from reporting.

Update your policies, processes, and communication platform.  There is a human resources component hidden in the new rule that is likely to impact companies who don’t have solid whistleblower program documentation.

An area of risk for companies is a crackdown on safety award programs that incentivize employees not reporting injuries and illness. A common example of this is providing a bonus to employees for the number of continuous workdays without an injury.

Another potential problem for employers is the way they utilize Drug & Alcohol testing programs.  Company policies that require blanket postaccident testing may be in violation of the anti-retaliation provisions of the rule.  Lean on your insurer, risk partners, counsel or in-house expert(s) to align your programs with the compliance requirements. Companies should consider reviewing and updating applicable policies and procedures, distributing them to impacted employees and documenting good faith efforts to comply.

We highly recommend using software that manages policies, procedure, and training in a single platform with incidents, accidents and discipline.  If these functions are occurring in silos or your company maintains multiple systems, we suggest that you at least integrate the data to get a full picture of every interaction with each employee in one quick view, as companies enter new territories with specific jurisdictional requirements that an existing software vendor is not equipped to address.

5) Embrace Data

OSHA is taking a data-driven approach to reduce workplace injury and illness, and so should you.  The collected data will allow the agency to focus enforcement and training resources in specific areas where they can make the most impact on improvement.  OSHA will promote transparency by making some of the collected data available on their website.

The “Hawthorne” effect describes a hypothesis that people perform better when they think they are being watched. Companies who have a robust platform to use data are at a distinct advantage in continuous improvement.  They are able to set improvement goals, measure performance, deploy improvement programs and adapt to improve company performance.

About Nick Goodell

Nick’s career spans business development, risk management, operations, and executive management, giving him the in-depth knowledge to help businesses identify and overcome challenges. Contact@HRResourceForce.com 412.447.1571

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https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/finalrule/ https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/ owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_ RELEASES&p_id=31860




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