OSHA’s new accident reporting regulations will make workplace injuries public soon, offering you the perfect opportunity to revisit your safety standards.
There’s a big change coming related to the reporting of workplace injuries or accidents to OSHA, and the change is creating a fierce debate among U.S. manufacturers. Under the old OSHA rules, companies were required to log reports of accidents and keep them on hand in case OSHA wished to investigate further, at which time the accident reports would be handed over to the regulator. That system is now changing in a big way. Here’s what you need to know.
Accident Reporting Takes a Major Turn
OSHA’s new rule “requires employers in certain industries to electronically submit to OSHA injury and illness data that employers are already required to keep under existing OSHA regulations.” The rule goes one massive step further, not only requiring companies to submit the accident reports to OSHA, but expressing OSHA’s intent to make these reports available to the public: “OSHA intends to post the data from these submissions on a publicly accessible Web site,” the new rule says.
According to Claims Journal, OSHA feels that increased transparency will result in public pressure that will lead to fewer accidents and better safety outcomes.
Manufacturing Industry Weary of Public Shaming
The National Association of Manufacturers issued a statement criticizing the new rule: “This regulation will lead to the unfair and unnecessary public shaming of these businesses. This is a misguided attempt at transparency that sacrifices employee and employer privacy.” Other critics have said that the accident reports, once submitted to OSHA and posted online, will be difficult to revise as new information comes in. So while the initial reports will be easy to find online — by anyone with an Internet connection — later revisions to accident reports may get lost in the shuffle, potentially leading to either unintentional or intentional misrepresentations of reports by the public. At the center of the controversy is an ongoing debate about whether more transparency about accident reports will encourage better safety practices or unfairly set up companies as targets for bad press and litigation.
Applying the New Workplace Injuries Reporting
The new rule applies to a broad range of hazardous industries, including manufacturing, construction, transportation, utilities and more. According to OSHA, companies with more than 250 employees must electronically submit injury and illness forms 300, 300A and 301, while companies with less than 250 employees need to submit form 300A. The law goes into effect on August 10, but electronic submission of accident reports won’t be required until July of 2017. OSHA will start posting reports online as soon as it receives them.
To prepare your team, let everyone know what’s coming down the pipeline, which is greater public scrutiny of your safety issues. However, don’t forget that you’ll be reporting data that you already needed to compile anyway. The only thing that has changed is that you’ll now need to automatically submit accident reports to OSHA, and that OSHA will automatically make them public. There’s now more regulatory and public pressure than ever to get your house in order — but a closer look at your own safety gaps can only benefit you and your team.