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Six Points on OSHA’s New Recordkeeping Rule

Although compliance with OSHA’s injury and illness recordkeeping and reporting rule is challenging, it’s crucial to get it right. Effective January 1st, 2024, the new rule applies to the reporting of 2023 data. Covered employers should be prepared to post the 300A summaries from February 1st through April 30th, 2024, and be prepared to submit electronically the 300, 300A, and/or 301 incident reports for the 2023 calendar year data by March 2, 2024. Employers should be taking steps now to understand the rule, identify recordkeeping issues, and ensure compliance.

Here are six reasons why employers should be taking steps now to understand the rule, identify recordkeeping issues, and ensure compliance:

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1. The number of covered establishments and reporting requirements have dramatically increased

The recent changes in OSHA regulations lower the threshold for employers to provide injury and illness reports, expanding coverage to thousands more establishments. Employers will now need to submit detailed forms including injury and illness incident reports, leading to public disclosure of this information. Additionally, the updated classification system and establishment rule pose challenges for companies with diverse business activities, emphasizing the need for careful review to avoid potential penalties and reputational damage.

2. OSHA’s unprecedented access to data is a powerful enforcement tool

Under the new OSHA rule, the agency will have access to comprehensive injury and illness data, leading to heightened enforcement and compliance risks for employers. This data empowers OSHA to target employers for inspections, determine citation policies, identify areas for scrutiny based on injury history, and conduct thorough site-specific inspections. While the rule protects worker privacy by not requiring personal names and addresses, it mandates the inclusion of certain identifying information, leading to targeted employee interviews during inspections.

3. Data is published on OSHA’s public website

The new regulation, although generally opposed by business groups, has raised significant concerns due to the public exposure of injury and illness data. This public disclosure could potentially misrepresent an employer’s safety practices, damage its reputation, and expose proprietary information, while also posing a risk to employee privacy. Despite OSHA’s intention to use software to protect sensitive employee information, uncertainty remains, prompting employers to take proactive measures to safeguard unnecessary personal information.

4. It’s complicated and mistakes are common

Ensuring accurate recordkeeping of work-related injuries and illnesses is essential but it can be challenging due to the complexity of determining what is “recordable.” Over-reporting can lead to adverse consequences such as inspections and negative publicity, while underreporting can result in enforcement actions and penalties. Common mistakes in recordkeeping, including misinterpretation of criteria and failing to include certain cases, highlight the need for a prioritized focus on establishing a compliant reporting system and ensuring the recordkeeping team has the necessary knowledge.

5. Recordkeeping violations mean citations, heightened risk of repeat citations, and exposure to multiple instance-by-instance citations

From October 2022 to September 2023, there were 413 inspections related to 1904.41, all resulting in citations totaling $441,653 in penalties. While the average citation cost is relatively low, it could lead to repeat violations with significantly higher penalties. The new Instance-by-Instance (IBI) citation policy, which allows multiple citations for the same standard, including recordkeeping violations, could result in substantial penalties for unreported injuries or illnesses, especially related to serious hazards or unreported fatalities.

6. Recordkeeping data can impact workers’ compensation rates

OSHA recordables and workers’ comp claims can differ, with some compensable claims not being OSHA recordable and vice versa. However, when a case is both compensable and recordable, aligning the information is crucial. OSHA public records provide insight into a business’s safety risk profile for insurance companies, impacting factors such as the DART rate, which affects workers’ compensation insurance premiums. Employers should accurately record only cases required by regulations to avoid inflating their DART rate and increasing their workers’ compensation premiums.