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OSHA’s Electronic Reporting Guidelines – What Employers Need to Know

In May of 2016, OSHA published a new rule titled “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injury and Illness.” That rule, with an effective date of January 1, 2017, applied not only companies with over 250 employees otherwise required to maintain records of injuries, but also some companies with over 20 employees in certain industries such as transportation, construction, and retail. Under the new rule, reporting companies faced a July 1, 2017 deadline to begin electronically submitting the reporting company’s Form 300A to OSHA, as well as a July 1, 2018 deadline to begin the electronic submission of Forms 300 and 301.

As a result of the new rule, employers across the country expressed several concerns. First, the new rule contemplated the publishing of the electronic Forms to OSHA’s website for viewing by the general public. Second, many employers voiced privacy concerns about the disclosure of the personally identifiable information of employees reporting injuries which would be available from the OSHA website. Finally, those employers who took subsequent measures to prevent future similar injuries were not able to provide information on those measures to those viewing the Forms on the OSHA website.

Due to these concerns, as well as the election of a new administration that expressed a desire to review the rule from the previous administration, the deadline for electronic submission of Form 300A was extended from July 1, 2017 until December 15, 2017. Other reasons provided as reasons for the extension were lack of guidance on the new electronic reporting procedure, and glitches in the “Injury Tracking Application” for reporting.

The extended deadline came and passed, and by January 1, 2018, it was estimated that one in three companies required to comply with the new electronic reporting guidelines had failed to do so. Because of this, OSHA directed the Agency’s field offices to inspect for employer compliance, and issue “other than serious violation” citations for those employers not currently in compliance. These inspections are expected to continue occurring through June 15, 2018.

It is too late for non-compliant employers to electronically submit the overdue reporting. Those employers are advised to have paper copies of the Form 300A, Form 300, and Form 301 ready to provide to OSHA representatives for the past five years up to the current date. Employers subject to the new rule are advised to be prepared to have their 2017 information electronically submitted by July 1, 2018 (beginning in 2019, and in subsequent years, the deadline for electronic submission will be moved up to March 2). Third party services are available to those employers facing difficulties in complying with the electronic reporting requirements.