OSHA Issues Final Rule on Electronic Reporting

Submitted by Firm:
Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon & Galchus, P.C.
Firm Contacts:
Abtin Mehdizadegan, J. Bruce Cross, Misty Wilson Borkowski
Article Type:
Legal Update

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule on electronic reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses which takes effect on August 10, 2016.

The final rule requires employers with more than 250 employees or employers in "high risk industries" with 20-249 employees who are currently subject to recordkeeping regulations must begin electronically reporting workplace incidents by July 1, 2017. Paper reporting will no longer be accepted. 

OSHA will no longer accept alternate "equivalent" forms. OSHA will publish the information obtained from electronic workplace injury and illness records, absent any details or explanations.

Additionally, the guidance that accompanies the rule indicates that employers may not have policies in place that discourage a reasonable employee from accurately reporting a work related injury or illness. This could have serious implications for many employers as it immediately calls into question any policy that offers a reward for a safe work environment, or that may deter an employee from choosing to report an injury due to unfavorable consequences, such as post-accident drug and alcohol testing.

What should Employers do?

Employers should review current policies in employment handbooks and contracts which may contain language that could be suggested as deterring employees from reporting, which under the guidance to the final rule, may be a violation of the law.