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OSHA Looks to Amend Electronic Reporting Rule

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) electronic injury reporting rule entered a new chapter recently when on July 30 OSHA opened a rulemaking intended to remove many of the Obama-era requirements employers found objectionable. The agency also announced it will not enforce this year’s deadline—already passed—and next year’s filing date will be March 2.

The ruling established under the Obama administration required companies with 250 or more employees or those with 20-249 employees in certain high-hazard industries to electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report). The original date to comply was July 1, 2018, but with the new rulemaking, OSHA is not accepting Form 300 and 301 information at this time. The requirement for all affected establishments to electronically submit 300A data remains in place.

Indeed, when the original electronic reporting rule was first introduced and then implemented, industry representatives raised concerns over privacy issues because forms 300 and 301 contain case-specific personally identifiable information (PII). OSHA, according to these representatives, had not provided a response sufficient to allay those concerns after the final rule was published.

In limiting data submissions to 300A data, which contains only summary-level information about occupational illnesses and injuries rather than case-specific information, OSHA seeks to alleviate the privacy concerns that were voiced. In the summary of the new proposed rule, the agency states that they have “preliminarily determined that the risk of disclosure of this information, the costs to OSHA of collecting and using the information, and the reporting burden on employers are unjustified given the uncertain benefits of collecting the information. OSHA believes that this proposal maintains safety and health protections for workers while also reducing the burden to employers of complying with the current rule.”

OSHA has requested further input on its proposed new ruling, stating that it “seeks comment on this proposal, particularly on its impact on worker privacy, including the risks posed by exposing workers’ sensitive information to possible FOIA disclosure.” The deadline for comments is September 28, 2018.

In the meantime, it’s important for employers to understand their obligations today. Even though OSHA’s proposed rule would eliminate the requirement to submit 300 and 301 data for larger establishments, the requirement for all affected establishments to electronically submit 300A data remains in place – and there’s evidence that many employers have struggled with this requirement so far. According to EHS Today, OSHA expected to receive approximately 350,000 reports by the first submission deadline of December 31, 2017, but only received 153,653 reports. That translates to nearly 200,000 establishments that failed to report. The second reporting deadline of July 1, 2018 for calendar year 2017 data has recently passed, and in time we will see how many establishments may have missed the reporting deadline in this cycle. In an announcement on its Injury Reporting page, OSHA has confirmed that the July 1, 2018 submission deadline will be enforced, saying that employers may continue to submit their 2017 data, but that submissions received after July 1, 2018 will be flagged as “late.”

RPS provides insurance and risk management solutions for many industry sectors, including those affected by the OSHA ruling, such as construction and manufacturing. For more information about our products, give us a call.

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