UPDATE 4/30/2018: OSHA determined that Section 18(c)(7) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and relevant OSHA regulations pertaining to State Plans, require all affected employers to submit injury and illness data in the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) online portal, even if the employer is covered by a State Plan that has not completed adoption of their own state rule.
UPDATE 12/18/2017: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will continue accepting 2016 OSHA Form 300A data through the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) until midnight on December 31, 2017. OSHA will not take enforcement action against those employers who submit their reports after the December 15, 2017, deadline but before December 31, 2017, final entry date. Starting January 1, 2018, the ITA will no longer accept the 2016 data.
UPDATE 11/22/2017: The December 1st delayed deadline has now been pushed to December 15th for the Electronic Submission of Injury and Illness Records to OSHA. If you haven’t done so already, affected employers should begin preparing to submit the required data to OSHA. If you aren’t sure if you are required to submit this information or what information needs to be submitted please read the article below. We have the answers. We also have a Decision Tree and Submittal Process Flowchart: Electronic Submission of Injury and Illness Records to OSHA to assist you.
Note that the following OSHA-approved State Plans have not yet adopted the requirement to submit injury and illness reports electronically:
- South Carolina
- Washington, and
Establishments in these states are not currently required to submit their summary data through the ITA (Injury Tracking Application).
Similarly, state and local government establishments in IL, ME, NJ, and NY are not currently required to submit their data through the ITA.
OSHA Moving Forward with Electronic Submission of Injury and Illness Records – For Now
The stories we have been getting over the last year on the electronic submission of Injury and Illness records to OSHA is “we’re doing it, well maybe, maybe not, we’re doing it, but now it is on a delayed schedule”. What new twist will the next few months bring? We can’t say for certain, but let’s see if we can at least bring you up to speed on what is expected to this point and, more importantly, what you need to do to be in compliance with current expectations.
Background on the Electronic Submission of Injury and Illness Records to OSHA
OSHA currently requires many employers to keep a record of injuries and illnesses in the form of the OSHA 300 Log. It has been a long-standing belief on the part of OSHA that this requirement helps employers and their employees in identifying hazards, fixing problems, and preventing additional injuries and illnesses. For years, this information was to be made available to OSHA upon request during inspections. Until now, little or no information about worker injuries and illnesses was made public or made available to OSHA on a national scale. That was all intended to change with the roll out of the OSHA regulation 1904.41 “Electronic submission of injury and illness records to OSHA” which took effect August 10, 2016.
Since it was first announced, this new regulation has become quite a political hot potato. Primarily because OSHA wants to make individual establishment injury and illness data public information as evidenced by an OSHA press release dated May 11, 2016 titled “OSHA’s final rule to ‘nudge’ employers to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses” in which Dr. David Michaels (OSHA Assistant Secretary at the time) stated “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”. Industry groups argued this data could be misused and/or misinterpreted. They also argued that given the fact that specific personal information would be maintained in a national database, the possibility of a data breach by hackers is real and significant. Let’s face it, the U.S. Government doesn’t exactly have a spotless record of being able to keep our private information private.
What Does this Rule Require?
The new Electronic Submission of Injury and Illness Records rule, which took effect May 12, 2016, requires many employers to electronically submit injury and illness data that they are currently required to capture on their onsite OSHA Injury and Illness forms (OSHA 300 Logs). This rule also applies to those employers operating in OSHA State plan states as well. This electronic submission will take place on an annual basis going forward. The intent is for this data to be available for OSHA to use in its enforcement and compliance assistance efforts. Some of the data will also be posted to the OSHA website for public review. The previous OSHA administration believed that public disclosure will encourage employers to improve workplace safety and provide valuable information to workers, job seekers, customers, researchers and the general public. Others aren’t so convinced.
The initial deadline for all affected establishments to have their 2016 data submitted to the OSHA database was July 1, 2017. The data collection system was originally scheduled to launch in February 2017, giving employers four months to submit their data by the July 1st deadline. However, the launch of the website never occurred. OSHA now expects to launch the data collection system by August 1, 2017. Subsequently, this delay has moved the compliance date for submitting the required 2016 information from July 1, 2017, to December 1, 2017. OSHA is stating the proposed five-month delay is to allow the incoming OSHA Administration an opportunity to further review and consider the rule. But as of yet, an Assistant Secretary of Labor in charge of OSHA has not been appointed.
How Will Electronic Submission of Injury and Illness Records Work?
OSHA states it will now launch the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) page on August 1, 2017. The user will be able to provide their 2016 OSHA Form 300A – Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses information via this portal. The plan is for the website to offer three separate options to the user for data submission. The most basic will be to manually enter data into a web form directly on the website. Another option will be to upload a Comma Separated Values (CSV) file to process single or multiple establishments at the same time. A CSV file looks like a garden-variety spreadsheet but with a .csv extension. Traditionally, they take the form of a text file containing information separated by commas, hence the name. The final option will be to transmit data electronically via an Application Programming Interface (API) for the users of automated recordkeeping systems.
Who is Required to Submit Their Information to OSHA?
An important term for you to clearly understand going forward is “Establishment”. For the purposes of this rule, OSHA defines an Establishment as a single physical location where business is conducted or where services or industrial operations are performed. A firm may be comprised of one or more establishments. To determine if you need to provide OSHA with the required data for an establishment, you need to determine the establishment’s peak employment during the last calendar year. Each individual employed by the establishment at any time during the calendar year counts as one employee, including full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary workers. OSHA provides some frequently asked questions and answers on their Injury Tracking Application (ITA) Electronic Submission of Injury and Illness Records page that you may find helpful in calculating the employee count of your establishment as well as what would or would not be considered an establishment.
All establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records will be required to submit their injury and illness data. Also, establishments with 20-249 employees whose North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) industry code falls under what OSHA classifies as Certain High-Risk Industries will be required to file. OSHA has established a page containing a list of their Certain High-Risk Industries. We strongly suggest that if you are in the 20 to 249 employee range and are required to keep OSHA injury and illness records (OSHA 300 Log) that you go to this page to verify that your industry group is required to submit your injury and illness data. If you are in construction, manufacturing, or utilities, you are on this list.
What is the Electronic Submission of Injury and Illness Records Process and How Long Will it Take?
The data submission process involves four basic steps:
- Creating an establishment;
- Adding 300A summary data;
- Submitting data to OSHA; and
- Reviewing the confirmation email.
For establishments with 20-249 employees that are required to report, OSHA estimates it will take a typical employer about 10 minutes to create an account and another 10 minutes to enter the required information from the Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (Form 300A).
For establishments with 250 or more employees, OSHA estimates it will take a typical employer about 10 minutes to create an account, 10 minutes to enter the required information from the Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (Form 300A), and 12 minutes to enter the required information for each injury or illness recorded on their Log and Injury and Illness Incident Report forms (Forms 300 and 301).
According to OSHA, establishments must submit the information electronically and may not submit the information on paper. Employers who do not have the necessary equipment or internet connection are being told to submit their data from a public facility, such as a library. OSHA also intends to provide an interface for entering data from mobile devices.
What Information Must be Submitted?
For Establishments with 250 or more employees, their 2016 data submitted in 2017 will only consist of information from their OSHA Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses). Starting with 2017 data and beyond they will be required to submit data from their Forms 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses), 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses), and 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report).
For other establishments that fall under the 20- to 249-employee size, they are to submit only information from their OSHA Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses).
When Must the Information be Submitted?
The new reporting requirements will be phased in over two years. In 2017, all covered establishments were required to submit information from their completed 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017. However, this deadline has now been pushed back to December 15, 2017. In 2018, covered establishments with 250 or more employees must submit information from all completed 2017 forms (300A, 300, and 301) by July 1, 2018, and covered establishments with 20-249 employees must submit information from their completed 2017 Form 300A by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, covered establishments must submit the information for the previous year by March 2.
First and foremost, be sure your establishment is required to submit your injury and illness data to OSHA. Secondly, don’t be in any hurry on Day One to submit your information. As with any roll-out of a massive online database, one can expect issues. Remember, the Healthcare.gov debacle? You have until December 15th to get your data submitted.
From a more political perspective, OSHA is currently without a leader. On June 27th, when OSHA published the delay in the implementation date of the rule, OSHA also stated it had determined that a further delay of the compliance date is appropriate for the purpose of additional review into questions of law and policy. Simply put, they are waiting for the new leadership to review and possibly change or delete the rule altogether.
We strongly suspect the new OSHA Administrator may have a much different view regarding the need for electronic submission of Injury and Illness Data than the previous Administrator. There is no harm for employers to take a wait-and-see approach with this one. Let OSHA get any potential bugs worked out of the online submittal process and ascertain that this rule will still be in effect by December 15th.
See our Decision Tree and Submittal Process Flowchart: Electronic Submission of Injury and Illness Records to OSHA